Skip to main content

Weekend Text Messages Increase Protective Behavioral Strategies and Reduce Harm Among College Drinkers


The current study examined whether a brief text messaging intervention compared to an assessment only/no treatment control would differentially increase protective behavioral strategies (PBS) that were associated with reducing negative alcohol-related negative consequences during football game weekends. Eligible participants (n = 161) were college students who had at least one drinking occasion in the past 30 days. Participants completed a baseline assessment prior to the experimental weekend before being randomly assigned to receive either a text-message condition that instructed students to use PBS or an assessment only/no treatment condition. Participants in the text messaging condition received a message on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday of a game weekend. Follow-up assessments were completed within 3 days following the experimental weekend. After controlling for amount of use, results suggest that for game day, those in the text-messaging condition reported significantly higher utilization of PBS and significantly lower negative alcohol-related consequences as compared with the assessment only/no treatment condition. Overall, the results highlight the importance of text messaging as an alternative intervention method that minimizes harm associated with drinking during football game weekends.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2


  • Babor, T. F., Higgins-Biddle, J. C., Saunders, J. B., & Monteiro, M. G. (2001). The alcohol use disorders identification test: Guidelines for use in primary care (2nd ed.). Geneva: World Health Organization, Department of Mental Health and Substance Dependence.

    Google Scholar 

  • Barnett, N. P., Murphy, J. G., Colby, S. M., & Monti, P. M. (2007). Efficacy of counselor vs. computer-delivered intervention with mandated college students. Addictive Behaviors, 32(11), 2529–2548.

  • Black, D. R., & Coster, D. C. (1996). Interest in a stepped approach model (SAM): Identification of recruitment strategies for university alcohol programs. Health Education Quarterly, 23(1), 98–114.

  • Blanco, C., Okuda, M., Wright, C., Hasin, D. S., Grant, B. F., Liu, S. M., & Olfson, M. (2008). Mental health of college students and their non–college-attending peers: Results from the national epidemiologic study on alcohol and related conditions. Archives of General Psychiatry, 65(12), 1429–1437.

  • Bock, B. C., Barnett, N. P., Thind, H., Rosen, R., Walaska, K., Traficante, R., Foster, R., Deutsch, C., Fava, J. L., & Scott-Sheldon, L. A. (2016). A text message intervention for alcohol risk reduction among community college students: TMAP. Addictive Behaviors, 63, 107–113.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Collins, R. L., Parks, G. A., & Marlatt, A. (1985). Social determinants of alcohol consumption: The effects of social interaction and model status on the self-administration of alcohol. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 53(2), 189–200.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Coxe, S., West, S. G., & Aiken, L. S. (2009). The analysis of count data: A gentle introduction to Poisson regression and its alternatives. Journal of Personality Assessment, 91(2), 121–136.

  • Dimeff, L. A., Baer, J. S., Kivlahan, D. R., & Marlatt, A. (1999). Brief alcohol screening and intervention for college students (BASICS): A harm reduction approach. New York: Guilford Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hingson, R., Heeren, T., Winter, M., & Wechsler, H. (2005). Magnitude of and trends in alcohol-related mortality and morbidity among U.S. college students ages 18-24: Changes from 1998-2001. Annual Review of Public Health, 26, 259–279.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hingson, R. W., Zha, W., & Weitzman, E. R. (2009). Magnitude of and trends in alcohol-related mortality and morbidity among U.S. college students ages 18-24, 1998-2005. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, Supplement, 16, 12–20.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hoeppner, B. B., Barnett, N. P., Jackson, K. M., Colby, S. M., Kahler, C. W., Monti, P. M., ... & Fingeret, A. (2012). Daily college student drinking patterns across the first year of college. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 73(4), 613–624.

  • Larimer, M., & Cronce, J. (2002). Identification, prevention and treatment: a review of individual-focused strategies to reduce problematic alcohol consumption by college students. Journal of Studies on Alcohol, Supplement, 14, 148–163.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Larimer, M. E., & Cronce, J. M. (2007). Identification, prevention, and treatment revisited: Individual-focused college drinking prevention strategies 1999-2006. Addictive Behaviors, 32(11), 2439–2468.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Larimer, M. E., Lee, C. M., Kilmer, J. R., Fabiano, P. M., Stark, C. B., Geisner, I. M., Mallett, K. A., Lostutter, T. W., Cronce, J. M., Feeney, M., & Neighbors, C. (2007). Personalized mailed feedback for college drinking prevention: A randomized clinical trial. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 75(2), 285–293.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Martens, M. P., Ferrier, A. G., Sheehy, M. J., Corbett, K., Anderson, D. A., & Simmons, A. (2005). Development of the protective behavioral strategies survey. Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 66(5), 698–705.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Martens, M. P., Pederson, E. R., LaBrie, J. W., Ferrier, A. G., & Cimini, M. D. (2007). Measuring alcohol-related protective behavioral strategies among college students: Further examination of the protective behavioral strategies scale. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 21(3), 307–315.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Martens, M. P., Smith, A. E., & Murphy, J. G. (2013). The efficacy of single-component brief motivational interventions among at-risk college drinkers. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 81(4), 691–701.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Mason, M., Benotsch, E. G., Way, T., Kim, H., & Snipes, D. (2014). Text messaging to increase readiness to change alcohol use in college students. The Journal of Primary Prevention, 35(1), 47–52.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Muthén, L. K., & Muthén, B. O. (1998-2017). Mplus User’s Guide. Eighth Edition. Los Angeles: Muthén & Muthén

  • Napper, L. E., Kenney, S. R., Lac, A., Lewis, L. J., & LaBrie, J. W. (2014). A cross-lagged panel model examining protective behavioral strategies: Are types of strategies differentially related to alcohol use and consequences? Addictive Behaviors, 39(2), 480–486.

  • Pearson, M. R., D’Lima, G. M., & Kelley, M. L. (2013). Daily use of protective behavioral strategies and alcohol-related outcomes among college students. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 27(3), 826–831.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Qualtrics. Copyright © 2019 Qualtrics. Qualtrics and all other Qualtrics product or service names are registered trademarks or trademarks of Qualtrics, Provo, UT, USA.

  • Ray, A. E., Turrisi, R., Abar, B., & Peters, K. E. (2009). Social–cognitive correlates of protective drinking behaviors and alcohol-related consequences in college students. Addictive Behaviors, 34(11), 911–917.

  • Read, J. P., Kahler, C. W., Strong, D. R., & Colder, C. R. (2006). Development and preliminary validation of the young adult alcohol consequences questionnaire. Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 67(1), 169–177.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Riley, W., Obermayer, J., & Jean-Mary, J. (2008). Internet and mobile phone text messaging intervention for college smokers. Journal of American College Health, 57(2), 245–248.

  • Suffoletto, B., Kristan, J., Callaway, C., Kim, K. H., Chung, T., Monti, P. M., & Clark, D. B. (2014). A text message alcohol intervention for young adult emergency department patients: a randomized clinical trial. Annals of Emergency Medicine, 64(6), 664–672.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Sugarman, D. E., & Carey, K. B. (2009). Drink less or drink slower: The effects of instruction on alcohol consumption and drinking control strategy use. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 23(4), 577–585.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Tremblay, P. F., Graham, K., Wells, S., Harris, R., Pulford, R., & Roberts, S. E. (2010). When do first-year college students drink most during the academic year? An internet-based study of daily and weekly drinking. Journal of American College Health, 58(5), 401–411.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. (2018). National Survey on Drug Use and Health 2016 (NSDUH-2016-DS0001). Retrieved from

  • Weitzel, J. A., Bernhardt, J. M., Usdan, S., Mays, D., & Glanz, K. (2007). Using wireless handheld computers and tailored text messaging to reduce negative consequences of drinking alcohol. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 68(4), 534–537.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Wood, P. K., Sher, K. J., & Rutledge, P. C. (2007). College student alcohol consumption, day of the week, and class schedule. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 31(7), 1195–1207.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Dennis E. McChargue.

Additional information

Publisher’s Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Electronic supplementary material


(DOCX 39 kb)


(DOCX 13 kb)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Edwards, S.M., Tuliao, A.P., Kennedy, J.L.D. et al. Weekend Text Messages Increase Protective Behavioral Strategies and Reduce Harm Among College Drinkers. J. technol. behav. sci. 5, 395–401 (2020).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Revised:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


  • Alcohol
  • Protective behavioral strategies
  • Text-messaging