Protective behavioral strategies among adult drinkers

August 2020
Dekker, M., Jongenelis, M., Hasking, P., Kypri, K., Chikritzhs, T.N. and Pettigrew, S. (2020). Factors associated with engagement in protective behavioral strategies among adult drinkers. Substance Use and Misuse. DOI: 10.1080/10826084.2019.1708944

Background: Protective behavioral strategies (PBSs) have been proposed as useful individual-level approaches to reducing alcohol consumption and alcohol-related harm. However, recent research suggests that few of the recommended PBSs may be effective in reducing longer-term alcohol consumption, with some appearing to result in increased intake over time.

Objectives: To identify factors associated with enactment of specific PBSs to inform alcohol control efforts that aim to encourage the use of effective strategies and attenuate the effects of strategies found to be associated with increased consumption.

Methods: Australian adult drinkers (n = 2,003; 50% male) completed an online survey assessing their alcohol consumption, frequency of attending drinking venues, enactment of specific PBSs, and demographic characteristics.

Results: Greater enactment of the PBS that has previously been found to be associated with reduced alcohol use (‘Count your drinks’) was found among older respondents and those with lower levels of alcohol consumption. Older respondents were also more likely to enact two of the three PBSs that have been found to be associated with increased alcohol consumption (‘Use a designated driver’ and ‘Leave drinking venues at a pre-determined time’).

Conclusions/Importance: Results suggest that enactment of specific PBSs may differ according to the individual-level variables of gender, age, and preferred beverage type, and the environmental-level variable of attendance at licensed premises. Randomized trials investigating the effectiveness of PBS interventions among drinker subgroups are needed to determine the extent to which enactment reduces alcohol consumption and alcohol-related harm and whether effects are moderated by the variables assessed in this study.