A Social Media-Driven Outreach Strategy for University Students on FASD

Sponsor: National Organisation for FASD
Sponsor Liaison: Joanna Buckard and Katie Liddle
Student Team: Nicole Allrum, Jordan Hodgson, Katelyn Lombardo, Hanna Trinh
Abstract: Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is a prevalent yet misunderstood disorder in the United Kingdom (UK), especially among university students. Under the guidance of the National Organisation for FASD-UK, we administered an online survey, two interviews, and two focus groups. These methods enabled us to evaluate both the low awareness levels of FASD and prevalent university drinking culture in the UK, while also gathering feedback on our social media campaigns. Based on our findings, we created a comprehensive marketing plan, launched social media platforms, and developed coasters for local pubs to enhance FASD-UK’s outreach to young adults. We recommend that FASD-UK appoint a student intern to maintain the social media initiative, bridging the gap with the university students.
Link: Booklet: A Social media-driven outreach strategy for university students on FASD
FASD Final Presentation

Supplemental Material: Marketing Plan

Supplemental Material: Beer Mat Design

Executive Summary

FASD impacts as many as 1 in 13 babies born to mothers who consume alcohol during pregnancy. The National Organisation for FASD-UK is dedicated to raising awareness and providing support and diagnosis to those affected. This project aims to extend their reach to a previously untapped demographic: university students aged 18-25, in an effort to increase awareness about this disorder among young adults.

The project set out to evaluate the current awareness levels of FASD among students, understand the prevailing drinking culture, and explore how social media can be effectively utilized to engage this demographic. To achieve these goals, we defined four primary objectives:

  • Evaluate relationships between UK university students and alcohol, and their knowledge levels of FASD
  • Gain insight into FASD and how it affects people and families in the UK
  • Compile insights about FASD in the UK to create engaging social media posts, and understand what strategies are most beneficial for a public health campaign
  • Create guidelines that summarize our findings in a way that will be useful for our sponsor to adopt in the future


We deployed surveys through Qualtrics to gather insights into university students’ knowledge of FASD and their drinking habits. We distributed them in person via small handout cards and flyers at pubs. This approach yielded a total of 97 responses. Additionally, we conducted two interviews with UK university students, which offered complementary qualitative data on the UK’s university drinking culture. These interviews allowed students to expand on their survey responses and share examples of public health campaigns that made an impact on them. To further our research, we facilitated two focus groups: one with UK university students and another with WPI students. These sessions provided valuable feedback on our social media posts, highlighting areas for improvement and aspects that were effective.


Our survey data suggests a culture among university students that normalizes excessive alcohol consumption, with 43% of respondents reporting their first whole alcoholic beverage consumption at age 15 or younger. Furthermore, through an ANOVA test, this data indicates that students who consume alcohol at a younger age are more likely to continue excessive drinking habits into their university years.

Additionally, awareness of FASD among students is notably low: 60% had not taken a course discussing safe drinking before university, and a concerning 35% were unsure or had never heard of FASD. Our research also identified Instagram and TikTok as the most popular social media platforms among our target demographic, aligning perfectly with the channels we chose for our social media campaigns, thus effectively reaching our intended audience.

Recommendations for Non-Profit Leaders and Public Health Organizations:

  1. There is a a need for education that pushes responsible drinking habits to help mitigate excessive alcohol consumption and increase awareness on FASD for the current and future generations.
  2. Consider employing a university student intern, preferably in marketing to establish a point of contact and build credibility with the UK universities.
  3. Collaborate with personnel from health and wellness organizations to further engage with students, especially those in students unions given their strong presence on campuses.
  4. Use TikTok and Instagram to reach the university-aged student demographic as these are the most used platforms by them.

Recommendations for Future Researchers:

  1. Be proactive during data collection process, this would mean gathering survey responses by delivering the survey in-person and utilizing personal connections, instead of solely relying on email responses.
  2. Researchers must gain a well-rounded understanding of the target audience to achieve their objective, and this includes considering outliers as an important component of the data. This may involve exploring various aspects of the lifestyle and environment of the demographic.