Examining college students' use of protective behavioral strategies from the Theory of Planned Behavior
Previous studies on college alcohol use suggest that approximately 65 - 73 percent of college students drank alcohol within the past 30 days (Johnston, O'Malley, Bachman, & Schulenberg, 2011; Nelson, Xuan, Lee, Weitzman, & Wechsler, 2009). Researchers also suggest that with increasing levels of alcohol consumption, students are more likely to experience alcohol-related consequences such as missing class, involvement with the legal system and expulsion from school. Therefore, prevention efforts have attempted to reduce the associated economic and personal consequences experienced with increased alcohol consumption. Protective behavioral strategies (PBS) such as using a designated driver, setting a predetermined time to stop drinking, and alternating nonalcoholic beverages with alcoholic beverages have been shown to limit alcohol consumption and negative consequences in college students. However, little is known about which factors best predict a college student's intention to use protective strategies while drinking alcohol. Therefore, this study sought to better understand the decision-making processes related to protective strategy use. The Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB), a motivational decision making model, was hypothesized to be a systematic way of studying the decision-making processes related to intention to use protective strategies while drinking alcohol. Self-report data were collected on 612 college students who reported that they consumed alcohol at least once in the past 30 days. Results from confirmatory factor analyses supported the use of the Protective Behavioral Strategies Intention Scale (PBS-IS) for assessing college students' beliefs and attitudes about using PBS while drinking alcohol. As hypothesized, results from structural equation modeling (SEM) suggested that college students' beliefs and attitudes about using PBS predicted their intention and future use of PBS. Thus, the TPB was found to be an appropriate theoretical model for predicting PBS use in a sample of college students. Based on results from this study, interventions may target those students holding unfavorable beliefs and attitudes about using PBS as they would be the least likely to use PBS and most likely to experience alcohol-related consequences.