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The nature and correlates of young women's peer-directed protective behavioral strategies

In: Addictive Behavior, volume 39, number 5, May 2014, pp. 1000-1005

Authors: Kerry Armstrong, Hanna Watling, Lisa Buckley

Recently, a number of studies have identified self-employed Protective Behavioral Strategies (PBS) as effective in decreasing the level of alcohol-related harm among young people. However, much of the published research has ignored important gender differences, such as women's increased tendency to rely on PBS that are social in nature. To further the understanding of women's PBS, the current study sought to investigate the nature and correlates of the strategies young women employ to keep their friends safe when drinking (i.e., peer-directed PBS). Method A scale measuring peer-directed PBS was developed and administered in conjunction with existing measures of alcohol consumption, personal PBS, and peer attachment. Participants consisted of 422 women aged 18–x;30 years, recruited among psychology students and the general public. Results Exploratory factor analysis revealed two clusters of peer-directed PBS; those that were aimed at reducing intoxication among one's friends and those that were designed to minimize alcohol-related harms. Further analysis found a positive relationship between women's tendency to implement personal and peer-directed PBS and that risky drinkers were less likely to engage in personal or peer-directed PBS (either type). Conclusion Findings indicate that personal and peer-directed PBS are related behaviors that are less frequently adopted by risky drinkers.