The influence of drinking games on drinking behavior, psychosocial variables, and harmful behaviors


College student alcohol use is a major public health concern in the United States due to high personal (e.g., risky sexual behavior, alcohol poisoning) and societal (e.g., driving under the influence) costs associated with this behavior. Drinking games have emerged as a significant influence on heaviness and frequency of college student drinking. The purpose of this study was to learn more about drinking games on college campuses using data from an intervention study targeting a primarily undergraduate student population of heavy drinkers. Specific research questions were: (1) What are the most common types of drinking games observed on a large state university campus?; (2) Are specific demographic and psychosocial variables related to playing drinking games and the choice of drinking game?; (3) Are there gender differences in drinking behavior?; (4) Are specific harmful behaviors (e.g., drunk driving) related to playing drinking games and the choice of drinking game?

Research questions were addressed using a secondary data analysis conducted with baseline data from an intervention study targeting heavy drinkers using university health services at a large state university (n = 363; NIAAA grant #1 U18 2AA015673- 0l). Data were collected using a self-administered questionnaire. Demographic (age, gender, ethnicity, grade level, GPA), psychosocial data (church attendance, significant life event, stress level, depressed/hopeless, loss of pleasure) and harmful behaviors (fighting, not do homework, miss school or work, driven after 3 or more drinks, ridden with someone who drank 3 or more drinks, regrets) were collected using close ended items. Drinking game data were collected using a free response measure (respondents listed up to 5 drinking games they regularly played). Additionally, drinking behaviors (age first use alcohol, in high school how many days in 30 drink 4-5 drinks in a row, currently how many days in 30 drink 4-5 drinks in a row, in past 30 days greatest amount of drinks in a row, in typical week how many days drunk) were also collected using a free response measure. In preparation for data analysis, drinking game data were coded using 6 categories identified by Bosari, et al (2004; motor skills, verbal skills, gambling, media, team, consumption) and an additional category, board (board games). Research questions were addressed using descriptive statistics, chi-square tests.

The results of this study indicate that 7 6% of the respondents play drinking games. Of those who play drinking games motor skills games (Beer Pong 70.3%), gambling games (Circle of Death (34.8%), F*** the Dealer (14.5%), and A **hole (10.9%)), and team games (Flip Cup 38.8%) were the most common types of drinking games. Gender, age, educational year, and ethnicity were all associated with type of drinking game (p < .05). Depression and feelings of hopelessness lasting at least 30 days was significantly associated with an increased likelihood of involvement in consumption games and attending religious services was associated with a decreased likelihood of involvement in consumption games (p < .05). Harmful behaviors were significantly associated with participation in drinking games (p < .05).

As freshman and younger persons were more likely than others to play the different types of drinking games and the five most popular drinking games tl\is places them at risk for accidents, injury or death. Colleges and Universities need to provide programs to incoming freshman educating them about the risks involved in heavy or frequent alcohol consumption. Additionally, "don't drink and drive" campaigns must become stronger and include a "don't ride with someone who is driving drunk" component because almost 60% of respondents have driven a motor vehicle after having 3 or more drinks and 71.4% have ridden in a motor vehicle with someone they knew had three or more drinks. Finally, as 25% of the respondents started drinking before the age of 15, early intervention is needed to educate children about alcohol and the risks of heavy and frequent drinking. An alcohol awareness program should be started for elementary school children in the same way stop smoking programs have been implemented at early ages.


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Thesis Completion





Norris, Anne E.


Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.)


College of Nursing

Degree Program



Dissertations, Academic -- Nursing;Nursing -- Dissertations, Academic







Access Status

Open Access

Length of Campus-only Access


Document Type

Honors in the Major Thesis

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