Identifying patterns of situational antecedents to heavy drinking among college students

Cathy Lau-Barraco, Ashley N. Linden-Carmichael, Abby L. Braitman, Amy L. Stamates

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: Emerging adults have the highest prevalence of heavy drinking as compared to all other age groups. Given the negative consequences associated with such drinking, additional research efforts focused on at-risk consumption are warranted. The current study sought to identify patterns of situational antecedents to drinking and to examine their associations with drinking motivations, alcohol involvement, and mental health functioning in a sample of heavy drinking college students. Method: Participants were 549 (65.8% women) college student drinkers. Results: Latent profile analysis identified three classes based on likelihood of heavy drinking across eight situational precipitants. The ‘High Situational Endorsement’ group reported the greatest likelihood of heavy drinking in most situations assessed. This class experienced the greatest level of alcohol-related harms as compared to the ‘Low Situational Endorsement’ and ‘Moderate Situational Endorsement’ groups. The Low Situational Endorsement class was characterized by the lowest likelihood of heavy drinking across all situational antecedents and they experienced the fewest alcohol-related harms, relative to the other classes. Class membership was related to drinking motivations with the ‘High Situational Endorsement’ class endorsing the highest coping- and conformity-motivated drinking. The ‘High Situational Endorsement’ class also reported experiencing more mental health symptoms than other groups. Conclusions: The current study contributed to the larger drinking literature by identifying profiles that may signify a particularly risky drinking style. Findings may help guide intervention work with college heavy drinkers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)431-440
Number of pages10
JournalAddiction Research and Theory
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)


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