Representatives from Sewanee met recently with the group of 32 schools participating in a collaborative effort to reduce the harms associated with high-risk drinking, known as the National College Health Improvement Program (NCHIP). The summit was a time to assess the efforts so far and determine how to continue the work already underway. NCHIP was started two years ago by then-president of Dartmouth Jim Yong Kim, a public health physician who is now president of the World Bank.
At the heart of the NCHIP effort is a methodology called “Plan-Do-Study-Act,” which allows local NCHIP teams to devise a way to address a problem, put it into immediate use on a small scale, study the results, and then make rapid changes based on the results. Initiatives and results are shared among schools in the collaborative, and individual institutions tailor the approaches to best suit their campuses.
Alex Bruce, associate dean of students, says that the team at Sewanee has been working very intentionally to promote a "think first" attitude among students, with the goal of decreasing the harms—physical, social, and academic—that can result from high-risk drinking. “Progress comes slowly, but we have seen a 14% overall decrease in the number of alcohol-related incidents over the past two years, as well as a 5% decrease in the number of students who report drinking to the point of regret," said Bruce.
NCHIP’s success to date has generated interest from other colleges and universities that want to join the next phase of the collaborative alongside the core group of the original schools.
Dartmouth President Philip J. Hanlon says NCHIP “will broaden the data-driven, action-oriented strategy we committed to when we established the program two years ago with the goal of closing the gap between research and practice. The strength of NCHIP is that it enables rapid sharing of the knowledge we gain and quick adaptation of evidence-based strategies to suit the unique circumstances at each institution."