Can narrative writing promote healthy alcohol use?

Department news | February 29, 2024

Narrative writing is a style that allows the writer to tell a story and can be used to shape how the world sees us and can help us understand our lives. Some research has shown that writing might be an effective strategy to reduce alcohol-related consequences. A new research project led by Kristen Lindgren, PhD, and Clayton Neighbors, PhD (affiliate professor and a former associate professor in our department) is investigating whether narrative writing about the self and identity can prevent or reduce hazardous drinking during developmental transitions in high school and college.

Funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), the five-year project consists of two separate studies. One will test whether narrative writing can prevent or slow the escalation of alcohol consumption and identifying as a drinker during the transition out of high school. The other will test whether narrative writing can reduce hazardous drinking and identification as a drinker during the transition out of college. The studies will recruit students from Seattle and Houston and the first study is expected to launch in March. In addition to Lindgren, team members from the UW include Anne Fairlie, PhDChristine Lee, PhD, Brian Calhoun, PhD, and research study coordinators Vyoma Shah and Ty Tristao. The team hopes to determine whether narrative writing can promote healthy decisions about alcohol during important life transitions for adolescents and young adults.