Off-Campus College Party Hosts Drink More Than Guests

COLUMBUS, Ohio – On any given weekend, at least 10 percent of students at a single college could be hosting a party, and on average, party hosts who live off campus are drinking more and engaging in more alcohol-related problem behaviors than are the students attending their bashes, research suggests.

In contrast, hosts of parties held on campus tend to drink less than do the students attending their gatherings, according to the study.

The research also suggests that college party hosts are more likely than the students attending parties to be male, living off campus, members of a Greek organization and in their second year or higher of college, and have more money to spend each month than other students.

The results come from an online survey of 3,796 students over the course of two academic years.

The findings could guide efforts by university personnel to curb excessive drinking at college parties, researchers say.

“Party hosts set the context for the attendees. They decide what kind of drinks are going to be there and how many people are going to attend,” said Cynthia Buettner, assistant professor of human development and family science at Ohio State University and lead author of the study. “So if you could get people to think about hosting a party in a particular way, you could reduce the risks for the people who attend.”

The study is published in a recent issue of the journal Addictive Behaviors.

Buettner used data from a larger study of campus drinking behavior to zero in on the activities of party hosts. To her knowledge, hers is the first study to examine how the behavior of party hosts differs from that of the students who attend college gatherings.

“It’s all in the name of intervention. The more information you have, the better able you are to target prevention efforts,” Buettner said.

The researchers contacted a random sample of registered students by E-mail, asking them to report on their alcohol use during eight different weekends from 2005 to 2007. If they reported in the online survey that they had attended or hosted a party, they were eligible for this study.

Of the 3,796 participants, 433 – or more than 12% – had hosted weekend parties. “It’s not a small group,” Buettner said. “That finding alone surprised us.”

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