A Dual-Process Examination of Alcohol-Related Consequences Among First-Year College Students
OBJECTIVE: Despite showing reductions in college student drinking, interventions have shown some inconsistency in their ability to successfully decrease consequences. With the goal of improving prevention efforts, the purpose of this study was to examine the role of consequence-specific constructs, in addition to drinking, that influence students' experiences with alcohol-related problems. The study examined how drinking and protective behaviors mediated the relationships between students' willingness to experience consequences, intentions to avoid them, and four categories of alcohol-related problems (physiological, social, sexual, and academic). METHOD: First-year college student drinkers (n = 2,024) at a large northeastern university completed surveys during the fall and spring of their freshman year. RESULTS: As expected, different patterns of associations emerged for physiological and nonphysiological consequences. When physiological consequences (e.g., hangover, vomiting) were examined, drinking significantly mediated the effect of willingness on the consequences. Drinking-specific protective behaviors indirectly influenced consequences through drinking behaviors whereas general protective behaviors did not. When nonphysiological (e.g., social, sexual, academic) consequences were examined, drinking and general protective behaviors emerged as significant mediators of the effects of willingness and intentions on the consequences, whereas drinking-specific protective behaviors did not. CONCLUSIONS: The results suggest that prevention efforts (e.g., personalized feedback) could be tailored to address specific types of protective behaviors as well as specific types of consequences frequently experienced by college students.