Survey Info

Background Information

After Bradley McCue, a Michigan State University junior, died of acute alcohol poisoning while celebrating his 21st birthday, his parents and friends founded the B.R.A.D. (Be Responsible About Drinking, Inc.) Foundation. The organization is a Michigan non-profit corporation dedicated to providing students and parents information about alcohol’s effects and how to deal with excess use.

In April of 1999 MSU and B.R.A.D. began sending birthday cards to students just before their 21st birthday reminding them to celebrate responsibly. A laminated wallet sized card with information about alcohol poisoning is included with the birthday card. (Appendix A: birthday card) Over the last three years 15, 000 MSU students have received one of the birthday cards.

As part of a study by MSU Olin Health Center ​and the College of Communication Arts and Sciences, funded by a grant from The U.S. Department of Education 1731 students were surveyed within two weeks of their 21st birthday during the 2001-02 academic year. The survey data for the project were collected by the Office for Survey Research (OSR), a division of the Institute for Public Policy and Social Research (IPPSR) at MSU. OSR conducted the survey on behalf of Drs. Dennis Martel and Charles Atkins, the principal investigators. (see Appendix B: Methodological report)

Of all students turning 21 during the study, random students were selected for each group. A control group received no card. All others received the standard B.R.A.D. card or a card with a gender specific or gender neutral insert of alcohol facts. All of the students also received the laminated wallet size insert.

Within two weeks after their 21st birthday, the students were asked an extensive set of survey questions on how they celebrated their birthday. Included were a series of questions about the B.R.A.D. birthday card, its wallet insert and the additional inserts. (See Appendix C: Numbers of students surveyed)

As an additional part of the study, parents of some students received a letter congratulating them on the upcoming birthday of their son or daughter. That letter also asked the parents to have discussion with their child about the dangers of drinking large amounts of alcohol as part of their birthday celebration.

A preliminary analysis of the survey results follows with supplemental data. (See Appendix D). A more detailed analysis of the extensive data will be completed and a comprehensive report issued later this year.

Highlights of the survey:

Of the 1731 students surveyed:

  • 93% Celebrated their 21st birthday
  • 80% Celebrated with alcohol
  • 48% “Got drunk” on their birthday
  • 11% Got sick on their birthday
  • 10% did not recall parts of the celebration

Students who received the birthday and wallet cards (vs. those who did not):

  • Drank less (using average number of drinks)
  • Were less likely to get drunk
  • Were less likely to drink shots
  • Were less likely to report parts of the celebration they can not recall
  • Were more likely to stop drinking because they “had enough”
  • Were more likely to have someone watch out for them during the celebration

Of the students who recalled receiving the cards:

  • 74% saved some part of the card
    • 3% of those took the wallet card with them on their birthday
  • 22% reported thinking about the card during their celebration
  • 12% reported they changed their plans for their birthday celebration
    • 3% By drinking less
    • 8% By being more aware/cautious of their drinking at their celebration
    • 1% By having someone watch over them during/after the celebration
  • 15% reported learning something new about alcohol poisoning.
  • 65 % shared the card contents with family or friends
  • 98% felt that MSU and B.R.A.D. should continue sending cards to students

Survey Information

Information on the results of the B.R.A.D. Card Survey are available below in Adobe Acrobat Format. (You can download the Abobe Acrobat Reader for free, here).

Preliminary Analysis with Appendices - Two page preliminary analysis of survey results with four appendices.

(2,747 KB)

Preliminary Analysis - Two page preliminary analysis of survey results.

(172 KB)

Appendix A: Birthday Card - Scanned images of the B.R.A.D. Birthday Card and inserts.

(1,001 KB)

Appendix B: Methodological Report - The survey research methods as well as the complete questionnaire.

(159 KB)

Appendix C: Card Distribution - Quantitative Information about the information various groups of the sample received.

(58 KB)

Appendix D: Charts on Selected Data - Selected charts highlighting additional data collected. Some information is included earlier in the text of this executive summary, other data appear in the appendix only.

(125 KB)

Information about the survey is also available from MSU For information on how the survey was conducted or interpreted, call Charles Atkin, Department of Communication, at (517) 353-3259; Dennis Martell, Olin Health Center, at (517) 432-1031; or Larry Hembroff, Office for Survey Research, at (517) 355-6672.