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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Role of Protective Behavioral Strategies and Anxiety in Problematic Drinking Among College Students

The use of protective behavioral strategies (PBS) has been shown to reduce heavy alcohol consumption and alcohol-related problems among college students. Limited research has examined how mental health is related to PBS use in the prediction of alcohol outcomes. Consequently, the aims of the present study were to (a) examine the relationship between anxiety symptoms and the use of PBS, (b) examine PBS as a mediator of the association between anxiety and alcohol-related problems, and (c) test anxiety as a moderator of the relationship between the use of PBS and alcohol-related problems.

Participants were college students (N = 199, 67% women) who completed self-report measures of typical anxiety symptoms, use of PBS, and alcohol-related problems.

Results indicated that anxiety was significantly negatively related to PBS use. Additionally, the association between anxiety and alcohol-related consequences was mediated by the use of PBS. The association between PBS use and alcohol-related problems was also contingent on one's level of anxiety. That is, although the relationship between the use of PBS and problems was negative regardless of anxiety level, those with higher anxiety exhibited a stronger, negative relationship between PBS and problems.

These findings suggest that PBS is both a mediator in the anxiety and alcohol-related problems association as well as an important factor in reducing negative consequences for college students higher in anxiety. Results indicate that college students with anxiety would be ideal candidates for harm-reduction interventions that emphasize the use of PBS in drinking contexts.

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