Predictors and Outcomes of Drinkers’ Use of Protective Behavioral Strategies

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Abstract

While protective behavioral strategies (PBSs) have the potential to reduce alcohol-related harm, there is a lack of understanding of the factors influencing adults’ use of these strategies. The present study assessed the frequency of enactment of a range of PBSs among Australian adults and identified factors associated with their use and the implications for alcohol harm minimization. A sample of 2,168 Australian drinkers (1,095 males and 1,073 females) recruited via a web panel provider completed an online survey that included items relating to quantity and frequency of alcohol consumption, beliefs about the health consequences of alcohol consumption, use of 5 specific PBSs (e.g., counting drinks and eating while drinking), and demographic characteristics. In general, use of these PBSs was negatively associated with overall alcohol consumption. However, usage rates were relatively low, especially among the heaviest drinkers. Refusing unwanted drinks and alternating between alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages were identified as especially important strategies in the Australian context, accounting for a substantial proportion of the variance in alcohol consumption. Greater efforts to increase awareness and use of PBSs are warranted. In particular, the results suggest that information relating to the importance of refusing unwanted drinks and alternating between alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages should be actively disseminated to the drinking public. In addition, the reliance on specified numbers of standard drinks in national drinking guidelines suggests encouraging drinkers to count their drinks should be a further focus of interventions given low reported prevalence of this behavior.

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