An In-Depth Examination of Protective Behavioral Strategies to Reduce Alcohol-Related Consequences

Duration: 2017 - 2019
Funding: National Institutes of Health (NIH) / National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)
Principal Investigator: Robert Turrisi

project image


The reduction of risky college student drinking remains a national public health priority. Recent estimates suggest 2 in 5 college students frequently binge drink. Reports also indicate risky student drinking results in approximately 600,000 unintentional injuries, 700,000 physical assaults, and 97,000 sexual assaults annually. As alarming as these statistics may seem, they pale by comparison to mortality figures showing that every week another 50 families suffer the loss of a loved one due to student alcohol poisonings and accidents. Numerous studies have revealed protective behavioral strategies (PBS) show promise in helping reduce high-risk drinking and consequences in college students.

Despite the benefits, there remains a sizeable gap in the literature detailing how consistently and how well drinkers use specific PBS. Results from this study will aid in the development of efforts to reduce risky drinking and consequences by employing a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods to systematically examine the effects of PBS consistency and quality. The research was conducted in two phases.

In phase I, qualitative data were collected on 60-80 students (18-23) via 6-8 focus groups to assist in the development of a theoretical model and a quantitative measure of consistency and quality of PBS implementation. Psychometric testing was conducted for the quantitative measure of PBS implementation (n=100)(Aim 1). In phase II, daily diary data were collected on 216 students and an additional subsample of 100 non-college-attending adults (same ages as Phase I) across six weekends to examine between-and within-person differences in the consistency and quality of PBS implementation (Aim 2) and sex and college/non-college status as moderators of the relationship between PBS implementation (i.e., consistency, quality) and consequences (Aim 3).

The objectives of this research were to: (1) add to the understanding of the dimensions of quality and consistency with which PBS are utilized, (2) provide more precise information about their efficacy in reducing consequences, (3) provide insights about areas where students are at an increased risk of experiencing harm, and (4) increase the public health impact of using PBS.

Project Team