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TV episode and epilogue
Last registered on February 22, 2015


Trial Information
General Information
TV episode and epilogue
Initial registration date
February 22, 2015
Last updated
February 22, 2015 2:30 PM EST
Primary Investigator
American University - Kogod School
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences
PI Affiliation
Santa Clara University
PI Affiliation
Prevention Research Center
Additional Trial Information
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Objectives. This study experimentally assessed whether alcohol television storylines impact youth drinking attitudes and intentions and whether corrective epilogues can moderate this impact.

Methods. Participants aged 14-17 completed the online study. Television episodes were professionally produced showing heavy drinking leading to either positive or negative consequences. The episode was shown alone or with an epilogue where a main character discussed the deleterious impacts of excessive drinking. Attitudes toward drinkers and drinking intentions were measured subsequently, along with reactions to the episode and demographic data.

Results. Exposure to the pro-alcohol episode led to more positive attitudes toward drinkers and greater drinking intentions but a corrective video epilogue successfully reduced this detrimental effect. However, including an epilogue after an anti-alcohol episode backfired, resulting in a boomerang effect.

Conclusions. Viewing a single television episode with a pro-alcohol message can lead to more positive attitudes toward drinkers and promote youths’ intentions to consume alcohol. The finding that a brief epilogue reduced the impact of the pro-alcohol storyline suggests easily implemented preventive strategies to counter the adverse impact of substance use portrayals in entertainment programming.

External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Grube, Joel et al. 2015. "TV episode and epilogue." AEA RCT Registry. February 22. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.636-1.0.
Former Citation
Grube, Joel et al. 2015. "TV episode and epilogue." AEA RCT Registry. February 22. http://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/636/history/3647.
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Experimental Details
Original TV episodes were produced, with different versions of the storyline to manipulate whether the embedded alcohol story was positive or negative. For some of the participants, the episode was followed by a corrective video epilogue telling the teen about the social risks of heavy drinking.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
The survey assessed attitudes toward drinkers and drinking intentions. Participants were asked “What do you think about people who drink alcohol?” on a 5-point semantic differential scale: Good - Bad, Unappealing - Appealing, Uncool - Cool, Unattractive - Attractive, Boring - Fun, Dumb – Smart (α = .71). The respondents’ drinking intentions were measured on a three-item scale asking them to indicate “In the next year, how likely it is that you will”: Drink alcohol, Drink several alcoholic drinks in a row, Drink enough to feel drunk (1- not at all likely to 5- very likely).
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
These alcohol indicators are commonly used in alcohol research and form a reliable overall indicator of alcohol drinking intent that predicts subsequent drinking behavior.
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
The participants were randomly assigned to watch an episode presented as a new TV pilot. Each participant viewed either the positive or the negative consequences episode with or without a public health video epilogue, according to the 2 (episode valence) X 2 (no epilogue / epilogue) experimental design, and counterbalancing the gender of the character presenter in the epilogue.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Randomization was computerized and programmed by the online survey software.
Randomization Unit
Randomization was conducted at the individual level.
Was the treatment clustered?
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
760 teens (50.4% males) participated in the study.
Sample size: planned number of observations
760 teens (50.4% males) participated in the study.
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
Sample numbers ranged from 174 to 198 in each condition with no differences in age or gender distribution.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB Name
Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
Post Trial Information
Study Withdrawal
Is the intervention completed?
Is data collection complete?
Data Publication
Data Publication
Is public data available?
Program Files
Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials
Relevant Paper(s)