Evaluating the efficacy of an internet-based social norms intervention for the prevention and reduction of substance use among students in four regions of Germany: INSIST


Overestimated rates of peer substance use are predictive of increased personal use in student populations. Correcting misperceptions by providing feedback, especially among students with high-risk substance use, has been shown to be an effective intervention for reducing substance use in the USA. In Germany, the approach was first tested in a cross-national European study aimed to examine the feasibility of a web-based gender-specific 'social norms'- intervention. The aim of the INSIST study was to implement a web-based 'social norms'- intervention for the reduction of licit and the prevention of illicit substance use among students at several German universities. A further objective of the study was to test the effectiveness of the intervention. An online questionnaire was used to assess rates of substance use and the collected data were used to develop an individualized ‘social norms’ feedback contrasting misperceived with actual rates of use. After 5 months, a follow-up survey was conducted at intervention and control universities to assess effects of the intervention on social norms and substance use. The project was a multi-site collaboration involving four intervention and four control universities which received the intervention after assessment was completed.

Funding period

Begin:   April 2013
End:   May 2016


  • Federal Ministry of Health


PD Dr. phil. Claudia Pischke


  • Dr. Bridgette Bewick (University of Leeds, United Kingdom)
  • Prof. Stefan Görres (Institut für Public Health und Pflegeforschung, Universität Bremen)
  • Prof. Andrea Icks (Universität Düsseldorf)
  • Prof. Alexander Krämer (Universität Bielefeld)
  • Dr. John McAlaney (University of Bradford, United Kingdom)
  • Prof. Rafael Mikolajczyk (Helmholtz Zentrum für Infektionsforschung, Braunschweig)
  • Prof. Ralf Reintjes (HAW Hamburg)
  • Prof. Sven Schneider (Universität Mannheim/ Heidelberg)
  • Prof. Andreas Seidler (TU Dresden)
  • Prof. Andreas Stang (Institut für Klinische Epidemiologie Halle/ Universitätsklinikum Halle)
  • Prof. Guido van Hal (University of Antwerp, Belgium)
  • Prof Ulla Walter (Medizinische Hochschule Hannover, Abt. für päd. Nieren- Leber- und Stoffwechselerkrankungen)