Prevention Science

, Volume 16, Issue 5, pp 663–673 | Cite as

The Efficacy of a Standalone Protective Behavioral Strategies Intervention for Students Accessing Mental Health Services

  • Joseph W. LaBrie
  • Lucy E. Napper
  • Elizabeth M. Grimaldi
  • Shannon R. Kenney
  • Andrew Lac


Students with poor mental health are at increased risk for problematic alcohol use. These students also tend to underutilize alcohol-related protective behavioral strategies (PBS). Cross-sectional studies indicate that PBS use may be particularly useful for students with mental health challenges; however, it is unclear whether training these students to use PBS is an effective approach for reducing alcohol use and consequences. The current study evaluated the efficacy of a standalone PBS skills training and personalized feedback (PBS-STPF) intervention among students accessing mental health services. Participants (N = 251) were randomly assigned to either an individual facilitator-led PBS-STPF intervention or a health-related control condition. Participants completed online follow-up surveys 1 and 6 months post-intervention which included measures of alcohol use, negative consequences, and a composite measure of PBS use. Relative to control participants, students in the PBS-STPF condition reported significantly greater PBS use but no differences in alcohol use or consequences. Participants in both conditions reported decreases in drinking outcomes over time. Tests of mediation indicated that the intervention indirectly led to reduction in drinking outcomes at 6 months through increased PBS use. Although the intervention resulted in changes in PBS use that were maintained for up to 6 months post-intervention, the effects of the intervention on drinking and consequences were limited. A brief standalone PBS training may need augmentation in order to promote effective use of PBS for substantial decreases in alcohol consequences.


College drinking Protective behavioral strategies Brief intervention Mental health 



This research was supported by Grant R21AA020104 from the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). Support for Drs. Napper and Kenney was provided by ABMRF/The Foundation for Alcohol Research. Dr. Kenney is also supported by Grant T32AA007459 (NIAAA). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NIAAA or the National Institutes of Health.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Society for Prevention Research 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joseph W. LaBrie
    • 1
  • Lucy E. Napper
    • 2
  • Elizabeth M. Grimaldi
    • 3
  • Shannon R. Kenney
    • 4
  • Andrew Lac
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyLoyola Marymount UniversityLos AngelesUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyLehigh UniversityBethlehemUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyPennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA
  4. 4.Center for Alcohol and Addiction StudiesBrown UniversityProvidenceUSA
  5. 5.Division of Behavioral and Organizational SciencesClaremont Graduate UniversityClaremontUSA

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