Research & Resources

To Drink or Not to Drink: Is That the Question? Examining Correspondence and Predictive Validity of Morning Drinking Intentions for Young Adults’ Drinking Behaviors and Consequences

The purpose of this study was to test the predictive validity of young adults’ drinking intentions for subsequent same-day drinking behaviors and negative consequences. Study participants were 222 regularly drinking young adults (84% college undergraduates) who completed an ecological momentary assessment protocol and wore an alcohol monitor for five consecutive 24-hour periods spanning 6 days (Wednesday–Monday). Each morning, participants reported their drinking intentions for the day, their previous day’s alcohol consumption, and the number of negative drinking consequences they had experienced. Multilevel models showed that at the within-person level, on days when participants reported intending to drink, get drunk, or drink more than usual, they had higher rates of drinking, consumed more drinks, and had higher peak transdermal alcohol concentrations later that day. Significantly, however, drinking also occurred on 28% of days when participants did not report any drinking intentions. Morning drinking intentions also predicted experiencing more negative consequences, even after controlling for alcohol consumption. On average, young adults’ morning-reported drinking-related intentions predicted increased rates of same-day drinking behavior and alcohol-related consequences. Since drinking frequently occurred on days participants did not intend to drink, however, these results suggest that focusing only on drinking intention days would result in many missed prevention opportunities. These results suggest the need for additional research to increase the predictive value of drinking.

This paper, “To drink or not to drink: Is that the question? Examining correspondence and predictive validity of morning drinking intentions for young adults’ drinking behaviors and consequences,” was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and published in the journal Prevention science.

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