Protective behavioral strategies mediate problem-focused coping and alcohol use in college students

Robrina Walker, Robert S. Stephens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Objective: Protective behavioral strategies have emerged as a construct protective against alcohol use. The current study examines the theoretical associations among general coping styles, protective behavioral strategies, drinking to cope motives, and alcohol use in college students. Method: Analyses of fully latent variables were conducted using structural equation modeling in a sample of 327 college students. Results: Protective behavioral strategies partially mediated the association between problem-focused coping and alcohol use. Behaviorally oriented problem-focused coping strategies accounted for the positive relationship between problem-focused coping and protective behavioral strategies whereas cognitively oriented problem-focused coping strategies were associated with less use of protective behavioral strategies and increased alcohol use. Conclusions: This is the first study to find that protective behavioral strategies are more likely to be used by college students who endorse using a problem-focused coping style, especially if they tend to use behaviorally oriented problem-focused coping strategies. These findings extend the literature on protective behavioral strategies and indicate that students less likely to use problem-focused coping skills to deal with stress in general may need additional interventions to increase their use of protective behavioral strategies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1033-1037
Number of pages5
JournalAddictive Behaviors
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2014


  • Alcohol use
  • Coping styles
  • Drinking self-regulation
  • Drinking to cope
  • Protective behavioral strategies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Toxicology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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