College students and problematic drinking: A review of the literature

Lindsay S. Ham, Debra A. Hope

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

530 Scopus citations


Problem drinking during the college years is a significant public health concern. The goal of the current review was to examine the primary psychosocial factors that predict problem drinking in college students. Variables examined included demographic variables, personality, drinking history, alcohol expectancies, drinking motives, stress and coping, activity involvement, and peer and family influence. Evidence from studies of college drinking indicated that the variables associated with college drinking seem to vary at levels dealing with one's personality and coping mechanisms, one's thought processes about drinking, and the environment. It seems that expectancies and drinking motives may serve as explanations for the pathways from certain personality types (i.e., sensation seeking and neurotic) to problem drinking in the college setting. Factors that predicted future drinking problems after college were also examined. Overall, it seems that interventions and prevention programs would need to reach college students at all three levels - the environment, individual personality traits, and cognitive processes. Future research should address the limitations in the previous research as well as test comprehensive models of college drinking.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)719-759
Number of pages41
JournalClinical Psychology Review
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2003


  • Alcohol
  • College students
  • Problem drinking
  • Risk behavior

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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