Three exploratory studies of college theme parties

John D. Clapp, Julie M. Ketchie, Mark B. Reed, Audrey M. Shillington, James E. Lange, Megan R. Holmes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Introduction and Aims. The objectives of this exploratory research were to (1) explore the characteristics and risks associated with college theme parties, (2) assess differences in risk associated with college theme parties compared to non-theme parties and (3) to assess differences in risk associated with risque theme parties as compared to non-risque theme parties. Design and methods. We used a mixed methods design. Results are presented from three exploratory studies of alcohol consumption in college theme parties: (1) four qualitative focus groups of students who have attended such events, (2) a web-based survey and (3) a multi-level (observational, survey, breath blood alcohol samples) study of 226 college parties, 29 of which were themed events. Focus group participants included a convenience sample of 17 college students aged 18-24 years; participants for the web survey included a convenience sample of 407 college students; participants for the multi-level study of college parties included 1725 randomly selected individuals at college parties. Results. Themes tended to be highly sexualised. Compared to non-themed parties, theme parties have been observed to be more rowdy, louder, involve drinking games, feature kegs and feature hard liquor. Discussion and Conclusions. Themed parties are associated with heavy drinking and are consistent with environments sought by heavy drinkers. As a result, themed parties are marked by a greater number of alcohol-related problems. Further research is needed to understand more clearly the risks involved in themed and risque themed events.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)509-518
Number of pages10
JournalDrug and Alcohol Review
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2008


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