There are several decision points for campuses that are choosing to implement the IMAGE program. Some campuses may only be able to implement the basic program, while others can utilize such components as incentives, research, or advanced technology. Below is a summary (with links to additional information) of several of these issues.
IncentivesShould we offer incentives and what should they be?
Incentives can be useful in both encouraging groups to participate and in increasing return rate of such assessments as the campus wide survey (used to collect initial normative data as well as to provide another data point for participants), and follow-up surveys. They can vary in terms of size and shape, such as extra credit in a class or small gift cards to restaurants or theaters. However, it should be noted that IMAGE can certainly be implemented without offering incentives to participants. See the Incentives discussion for suggestions about ways to do so.
AssessmentHow much research do we have to do?
UH Wellness has been collecting outcome data on the IMAGE program to document its effectiveness. Campuses who are wanting to implement the program, however, do not have to engage in extensive research methods. There is some basic data collection which is required in order to provide feedback during the session; specifically, campus-wide norms for each campus need to be assessed (typically through a campus-wide survey) and a pre-test must be collected for each cohort group. For IMAGE, there are only 4 key questions required for the campus-wide norms and pre-test (perceptions of campus alcohol frequency and quantity and self-reported personal frequency and quantity). Additionally, a post-test should be conducted to encourage statements of intent to implement self-protective behaviors. The pre-test and post-test generally take less than 5 minutes to complete while the campus-wide survey will vary depending on how many questions are asked. Follow-up surveys are optional (see Assessment for more information.)
Advanced TechnologyWe are limited in terms of budget, can we still run IMAGE?
Audience Response Systems (ARS) have been utilized increasingly within academic classroom settings in higher education over the past ten years55. Participants respond to questions posed by the facilitator through the use of a small hand-held device which transmits responses to a computer, through which the corresponding software immediately processes and graphs the results.
The benefit of ARS, in terms of health promotion settings outside of the classroom, is that participants are immediately able to compare their own responses to others in the session. This is a powerful tool when it comes to comparing alcohol norm perceptions. During an ARS IMAGE session, for instance, cohort members are asked to indicate what they believe to be the UH campus norm for alcohol frequency. Their responses are displayed in a PowerPoint graph which is then overlayed with a graphic indicating the actual UH frequency norms from the campus-wide survey; comparisons are easy to make as it is visually clear how accurate their estimation was. Other benefits of ARS to the IMAGE program include: elimination of the need to administer and collect pre-tests from cohort groups (which is often logistically complicated and frequently results in re-scheduling if pre-tests are not completed prior to the session); reduction in terms of human error and time spent on data entry; and most importantly, students seeing their individual responses (acknowledged instantly through a tallying counter on screen) as compared to the rest of their cohort with the click of a button.
However, purchasing an ARS can be quite expensive. Although it is possible that other departments on campus may already possess such technology and may be willing share, it is important to note that IMAGE can definitely be implemented without the use of this advanced technology. The session components remain the same, although the personalized feedback delivery is a bit different (see the discussion here for more information).