Conceptual Approach

IMAGE is a research-based, theory-driven program which is designed to be one component of a comprehensive campus prevention program.  Therefore, it is important to conduct a needs assessment for your campus to determine the areas upon which to focus, and whether IMAGE could enhance comprehensive prevention efforts on your campus.

Based upon research that has documented the impact of personalized feedback upon college-student alcohol-use behavior, IMAGE provides such feedback via comparisons with campus and cohort-based norms.  Students are able to compare their alcohol use behavior with that of the campus at large, as well as those students to whom they see themselves as being most similar. This can be empowering (if their drinking pattern is lower than cohort norms), eye-opening (if their drinking pattern is higher than cohort norms), or reinforcing (if their drinking pattern is similar to cohort norms).

One of the unique aspects of IMAGE is that it facilitates students making statements of intent regarding the implementation of self-protective behaviors.  Such statements have been shown to increase the likelihood of follow-through and subsequent behavior change.  In fact, IMAGE program results have demonstrated that students who make statements of intent to implement a self-protective behavior are more likely to have done so one and six months later than those students who do not make such statements. This implementation has been shown to subsequently result in fewer negative consequences and a decrease in frequency and quantity of drinking.

Following a recent trend in the prevention field, IMAGE combines both harm-reduction and abstinence-based approaches. By defining underage drinking as a high-risk behavior, abstinence (by default) becomes one option among many when discussing self-protective behaviors.  This allows the program to simultaneously encourage abstinence on the behalf of underage students, while addressing high-risk drinking behaviors among those students who may choose to drink.