Because of the research-based nature of IMAGE, assessment is woven into the program structure as a way to provide personalized feedback as well as to monitor program effectiveness. Campuses are encouraged to implement the assessment structure as stated here, but may also choose not to conduct the follow-up assessments with students, depending on the campus needs and resources.
It is recommended that campuses explore their institution’s IRB requirements with regards to the protection of human subjects. Asking students questions about their alcohol-use behavior (particularly those that are under-age) could be incriminating or cause discomfort, and could require IRB approval. In many cases, however, if the data will not be shared outside of the campus and no identifiers are linked to participants then it is not necessary to complete the IRB process. Each campus should confirm the requirements prior to the collection of any data. Although the process will vary on each campus, contact UH Wellness if you have general questions about IRB issues.
Regardless of the need for IRB approval or not, the maintenance of student confidentiality is paramount. In order to track individual behavior change across time, each campus will need to develop a unique code that students can easily recall but cannot be linked to their responses (such as the last 4 digits of their student ID and the first 3 letters of their last name). This code will be utilized at each data collection period on each assessment in order to track individual behavior change across time.
Within the IMAGE program, there are 5 data collection points - campus-wide survey, pre-test, post-test, and 1 and 6-month follow-ups. Each will be briefly summarized below, but copies of each can be requested from UH Wellness.
It is important to obtain normative alcohol-use behavior information for YOUR campus prior to the implementation of IMAGE. Without this information, comparison to campus norms would be impossible. As seen in other prevention programs, IMAGE defines alcohol-use frequency as “occasions per month” and quantity as “drinks per week”. For the purposes of IMAGE, normative information can be gathered using four questions: 2 on alcohol perception (frequency, quantity) and 2 on self-reported use (frequency, quantity).
Students are asked to indicate their typical alcohol-use frequency and quantity, as well as perceptions of their peers’ drinking. Basic demographic questions are included as well.
Students are asked to identify campus frequency and quantity norms (to check for a correction in perception). Then, students are asked to recall and identify one self-protective behavior they will implement into their lifestyle. The remaining items measure intent to change, self-efficacy of changing, outcome expectancies of implementing the behavior, and perception of obstacles to change.
Students are again asked to identify campus frequency and quantity norms, as well as their own alcohol-use behavior. Both follow-up assessments also examine the extent to which students implemented their chosen self-protective behaviors, the perceived impact of implementing the behavior, and any obstacles faced in doing so.
Conducting a follow-up allows IMAGE administrators the ability to gauge whether participants have retained the campus normative information but more importantly to also determine whether participants have actually made changes in their alcohol-use behavior. IMAGE research has shown that the extent to which students implement the self-protective behavior specified on the post-test has a significant impact upon alcohol frequency and quantity during the follow-up period. Being able to document behavior change following a program is very helpful in securing additional funding (through grants and donations) as well as higher administrative support for prevention efforts.