Document Type


Publication Date




Publication Title

Substance Use & Misuse








Background: Protective behavioral strategies (PBS), or behaviors used to reduce harm associated with alcohol use, are often associated with lower levels of alcohol consumption, lower engagement in high-risk drinking behaviors, and fewer alcohol-related consequences. Although the majority of studies have found significant associations between higher PBS use and lower consumption or consequences, some studies have found nonsignificant or even positive associations. One explanatory hypothesis is that the mixed findings are due to differential content in PBS measures. Objectives: The current study examined the criterion validity of two widely-used PBS measures, the PBSS and the SQ. In a multi-institution online study assessing alcohol outcomes, college drinkers were randomly assigned to complete one PBS measure. Both measures had the same response options to standardize assessment and focus on content. Results: Findings suggest both measures of PBS are consistently predictive of alcohol outcomes among college drinkers, across multiple subpopulations (i.e., strength of association was not moderated by sex, race, or drinking level). Conclusions/Importance: Some PBS subscales were more impactful than others, suggesting researchers may want to choose which PBS scale to use based on outcomes of interest, or after determining if alternatives to drinking is an important facet of PBS for the research questions being examined. Moreover, the differential findings for subscales suggest that prevention and intervention programs incorporating PBS should focus on strategies that avoid high-risk scenarios (e.g., avoiding shots or drinking games), rather than general strategies of self-pacing.


This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Substance Use & Misuse on November 13, 2022, available at:

Original Publication Citation

Braitman, A. L., Stamates, A., Colangelo, M., Ehlke, S. J., Ortman, J., Heron, K. E., & Carey, K. B. (2023). Criterion validity of protective behavioral strategies for alcohol consumption among college students: Comparison across two measures. Substance Use & Misuse, 58(1), 11-21.


0000-0003-2259-1094 (Braitman), 0000-0002-6759-1242 (Stamates), 0000-0001-7288-2418 (Ehlke), 0000-0002-8494-9808 (Ortman), 0000-0002-7452-876X (Heron)