Baseline Protective Behavioral Strategies' Effect on Motivational Interventions Surrounding College Sporting Event Alcohol Consumption

Julia Garcia, Ambreen Imran, and Derek Pena

Authors:  Julia Garcia, Ambreen Imran, Derek Pena

Faculty Mentor:  Robert Leeman

College: College of Health and Human Performance


Background: Interventions are a promising method to counteract college alcohol misuse. Protective behavioral strategies (PBS), such as limiting the speed of alcohol consumption, are effective in minimizing risks associated with alcohol misuse. Baseline PBS use is a strong indicator of intervention effectiveness. This study’s intervention attempts to influence students’ motivation to change hazardous drinking behaviors.
Methods: Participants provide data regarding PBS use and motivation to change their alcohol consumption via self-reported online surveys at various times surrounding university athletic events (i.e., before and immediately after games, the following morning and evening, one week later, and one, three, and six months later). Participants are then randomized to a control or intervention, the latter providing personalized feedback regarding alcohol consumption.
Anticipated Results: The intervention will increase student’s motivation to lower their alcohol consumption, leading to a decrease in alcohol misuse. In comparison to other students, those with higher baseline PBS will experience a larger decrease in alcohol misuse after intervention.
Conclusion: Our data will indicate a strong association between baseline PBS and safe drinking habits among college students. Alcohol misuse has severe social, physical, and emotional consequences. Interventions increase motivation to develop safe habits by empowering targeted individuals.

Poster Pitch

Click the video below to view the student's poster pitch.


Click the image below to enlarge.
14 Responses
  1. Dr. Donnelly

    Nice! Were you able to collect any data? Continue to analyze? Since in progress, would say “Possible” findings and really can’t draw any conclusions. The purpose of this research is to test a particular intervention, but maybe it won’t work and while you would like it to should not show bias.

    1. Julia Garcia

      Yes, we were able to collect data at two separate basketball games for a short period of time. The participants we recruited on those occasions will continue to complete future surveys and provide valuable data for us to analyze. Based on existing literature in this area regarding similar interventions for college alcohol misuse, we strongly believe that this intervention will also show success. That is also why we clarified that our findings are “anticipated” as we are basing these hypotheses on existing literature. Thank you very much for your interest, and feel free to reach out if you have any more comments or questions!

    1. Ambreen Imran

      Because our anticipated results suggest baseline protective behavioral strategies are a powerful indication of intervention effectiveness and decreased risky drinking, future research can look into how we can better integrate protective behavioral strategies into students’ drinking habits. For example, research can examine the effectiveness of public health campaigns regarding protective behavioral strategies that target college students. Having a strong basis for protective behavioral strategies can ensure that many of the negative consequences associated with drinking are avoided from the start. Our anticipated results also propose that motivation to decrease drinking post-intervention will increase. Future research regarding motivation to decreasing risky alcohol use could investigate how to maintain high levels of motivation a year or two after the intervention.

  2. Julia, if we were to find an intervention effect initially but the effect weakened by the 3- and 6-month follow-ups, can you think of any ways we might be able to address such a pattern in future studies?

  3. Julia Garcia

    Perhaps in a future study, we could examine the benefits of additional interventions at various intervals throughout the length of the study. For example, after three months we may ask participants to take part in an additional intervention that compares their behaviors and perceptions of norms at that point to their peers again and in comparison to their initial responses to the first intervention. Then, we would be able to provide additional information to prolong the intervention’s effects, such as encouraging the participants to continue their use of protective behavioral strategies as well as tips to maintain their motivation to continue changing their behaviors.

  4. Derek, What is the control condition in this study like and wouldn’t it be possible that some participants may benefit from being in the control condition. If that happens would it make it harder for us to show a beneficial effect of the intervention?

    1. Derek Pena

      The control condition in this study is basic alcohol education, which contains information such as the amount of alcohol in a standard drink, and it is certainly possible that some participants may benefit from being in this control condition. However, our preliminary research has shown that simply providing information on alcohol use is not a very effective way of reducing alcohol consumption and misuse behaviors. Our intervention goes further by asking our participants questions about their alcohol consumption and using their answers to provide personalized feedback that compares their usage to the average usage of their peers and categorizes them based on their level of alcohol misuse.