All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Laura L Forbes

Advisory Committee Members

Jenna Lachenaye

Tricia Witte

Stella Aslibekyan

Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name by School

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) School of Education


It has been well established that college athletes are among the most at-risk student populations for engaging in heavy episodic drinking and other risky alcohol and drug use behavior including but not limited to risky sexual behavior. Despite this knowledge, to date there are no truly effective long-term education, intervention, prevention, or treatment programs. This is especially true for bystander approaches. Bystander interventions have shown effectiveness in decreasing sexual assaults and changing rape mythology, but there has not been much research on its effectiveness on alcohol and drug use. There is also a lack of knowledge and understanding on how the lives of college athletes’ attributes to their drinking attitudes, behaviors, and beliefs. The goal of the current study was to begin to remedy that. The current study used qualitative methods specifically, a phenomenological framework and an interpretative phenomenological analysis to understand how the lived experiences of current varsity collegiate athletes necessitate the need for an athlete-specific bystander intervention program. A total of 16 full-time and active members of a varsity sports team were interviewed to learn more about their experiences as a college athlete with a focus on their social lives, their interactions, and relationships with alcohol. The 16 interviews revealed a total of five superordinate (major) themes and an additional 21 smaller emergent (minor) themes. The five superordinate themes uncovered were finding and maintaining a balanced life, brotherhood, family, and the significance of teammate relationships, the pre-game, demonstration of pro-bystander behavior, and individuality and the significance of personal choice. The results also verified that college athletes do enjoy a unique experience and because of this, it is entirely possible that the generic run of the mill educational or intervention program will not be applicable for them. The results also led to recommendations for where future research should be aimed and for what components an athlete specific bystander intervention program should contain. Key Words: qualitative, phenomenology, bystander, bystander behavior, college athletes, alcohol

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