Academic journal article Journal of Alcohol & Drug Education

Reciprocal Relations of Protective Behavioral Strategies and Risk-Amplifying Behaviors with Alcohol-Related Consequences: Targets for Intervention with Female College Students

Academic journal article Journal of Alcohol & Drug Education

Reciprocal Relations of Protective Behavioral Strategies and Risk-Amplifying Behaviors with Alcohol-Related Consequences: Targets for Intervention with Female College Students

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

Transactional associations of protective behavioral strategies (PBS) and risk-amplifying behaviors (RAB) to alcohol-related negative consequences were tested. A sample of 138 undergraduate women was assessed with self-report measures at two time points four months apart. Over and above quantity and frequency of alcohol consumption, engagement in risk-amplifying behaviors, but not protective behavioral strategies, predicted increased negative consequences concurrently. However, use of PBS but not RAB, predicted changes in experiencing negative consequences longitudinally. Frequency of negative consequences did not predict changes in either protective behavioral strategies or risk-amplifying behaviors over time. Results suggest that PBS and RAB may both be important but independent targets for intervention and prevention with college-aged women. Specifically, short-term intervention might target RAB, whereas prevention efforts might focus on RBS.

Keywords: Protective behavioral strategies, risk-amplifying behaviors, alcohol, college women

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College students' alcohol use has long been implicated in experiences of academic difficulties, health-related problems, and engagement in high-risk behaviors (Naimi et al., 2003; NIAAA, 2004; Wechsler, Dowdall, Davenport, & Castillo, 1995). Traditionally, alcohol research has focused on men's heavier consumption and greater risk for experiencing alcohol-related consequences. Yet as consumption increases, women experience more negative consequences than men (Presley & Pimentel, 2006), and women's slower metabolism of alcohol leaves them with a smaller margin of error in underestimating alcohol effects (Nolen-Hoeksema, 2004; Mallett, Lee, Neighbors, Larimer, & Turrisi, 2006). While consumption levels certainly impact the number and severity of negative alcohol-related consequences, drinking quantity and frequency fail to provide a complete understanding of their occurrences (Gruenwald, Johnson, Light, Lipton, & Saltz, 2003). Besides drinking, college students' engagement in protective behavioral strategies may buffer resulting negative outcomes (Martens et al., 2004), whereas engagement in risk-amplifying behaviors when drinking may magnify subsequent consequences (Park & Grant, 2005). In particular, women may be more likely than men to engage in certain protective behaviors or be at unique risk if they do not utilize them (e.g., keeping possession of a drink). Also, certain risky behaviors may amplify the intensity of negative consequences particularly for women (e.g., unprotected sex). In light of the National Institute on Drug Abuse's (2003) call for additional research on women's alcohol use and corresponding women-specific interventions, the current study tested the transactional relations of protective behavioral strategies (PBS) and risk- amplifying behaviors (RAB) to negative alcohol-related outcomes, both concurrently and longitudinally, in college-aged women.

What Might Buffer Harmful Drinking Consequences for Women: Protective Behavioral Strategies (PBS)

College students report using several protective behavioral strategies (PBS) while drinking such as eating food (e.g. Clapp, Shillington, & Segars 2000), keeping track of number of drinks consumed (Delva et al., 2004), and alternating alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks (Martens et al., 2005), to reduce subsequent adverse events. PBS are inversely related to several indices of drinking including weekly number of drinks, heavy episodic drinking, highest number of drinks, and 30-day frequency of drinking (Martens et al., 2005). Despite operationalizing negative consequences differently and measuring slightly dissimilar protective strategies, five studies to date have found that use of more PBS was associated with students experiencing fewer negative consequences (Benton, Benton, & Downey, 2006; Benton et al., 2004; Delva et al. …

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