The link between planning and doing: Daily-level associations between college students' plans for and use of alcohol-related protective behavioral strategies

Psychol Addict Behav. 2021 Aug;35(5):577-586. doi: 10.1037/adb0000740. Epub 2021 Apr 15.


Objective: The current study expands the literature on alcohol-related protective behavioral strategies (PBS) that individuals may use to reduce risk of intoxication and/or consequences. This study used daily data collected prospectively to test (a) the extent to which college students' plans for using different types of PBS on a given day were associated with actual PBS use and (b) whether drinking intentions moderated the strength of the association between PBS plans and use.

Method: College students ages 18-24 (N = 189; mean (SD) = 20.16 (1.54) years; 48.68% female; 67.20% White/Caucasian) completed eight consecutive weekends of online daily surveys (2x/day; 83.72% completed) and reported on PBS plans/use and also drinking intentions/use. Eligibility included drinking 2 days/week in the past month and heavy episodic drinking in the past two weeks. Three PBS subscales were tested in separate multilevel models: limiting/stopping, manner of drinking, and serious harm reduction.

Results: As hypothesized, for each PBS subscale, afternoon PBS plans were positively associated with use of that type of strategy later that night. Moderation results showed a larger positive association between daily limiting/stopping plans and use of limiting/stopping strategies on days when drinking intentions were elevated compared to days with lower drinking intentions.

Conclusions: Findings indicated that college students do plan to use PBS ahead of drinking occasions, and when students had stronger than usual plans for PBS, they tended to follow through on their plans. It may be beneficial to enhance students' PBS plans in interventions by addressing potential barriers to PBS. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved).

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Alcohol Drinking in College* / psychology
  • Female
  • Harm Reduction*
  • Humans
  • Intention*
  • Male
  • Protective Factors
  • Students* / psychology
  • Students* / statistics & numerical data
  • Young Adult