Alcohol and cannabis-related protective behavioral strategies: Psychometric considerations



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Alcohol and cannabis use are prevalent among college students, and some are at risk for developing alcohol and cannabis use disorders. However, many students report using substances without experiencing negative consequences. This may be due, in part, to use of protective behavioral strategies (PBS), or ways in which individuals moderate consumption and/or reduce associated negative consequences. Although the study of alcohol and cannabis PBS has grown exponentially in the last few years, many limitations remain. Specifically, limited psychometric work has been done on the most widely used measures of alcohol- and cannabis-related PBS. Thus, the purpose of this study was to examine psychometric properties of the Protective Behavioral Strategies Survey (PBSS-20) and the Protective Behavioral Strategies for Marijuana (PBSM) scales, as well as the PBS-consequences association. Analyses include exploratory and confirmatory analyses on independent data sets, multigroup confirmatory analyses testing measurement invariance across gender, graded response models assessing trait-level information, and structural equation models using PBS to predict substance-related outcomes. Exploratory factor analyses indicated significant cross-loading on several items on both factors, though original factor structures were retained based on model fit and for replication purposes. Measurement invariance across gender was not exhibited by the PBSS-20 or PBSM. Item response theory analyses indicated specific items on both measures exhibited significant gender differences in amount of information, as well as location of information across the latent trait. No items provided significant information above average on the latent trait. All PBS items significantly associated with substance use outcomes were negative in direction and ranged from small to large in magnitude. Implications and future directions are discussed.



Protective behavioral strategies, Alcohol, Cannabis, Psychometrics