Measuring Protective Behavioral Strategies for Marijuana Use Among Young Adults

Published in: Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, v. 77, no. 3, May 2016, p. 441-450

Posted on RAND.org on September 06, 2016

by Eric R. Pedersen, Justin F. Hummer, Dipali Venkataraman Rinker, Zach K. Traylor, Clayton Neighbors

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OBJECTIVE: Marijuana use can result in a variety of negative consequences, yet it remains popular among young adults and the general public at large. Combined with the growing empirical support for the benefits of medicinal marijuana as well as the steady increase in popular opinion regarding its legalization, it is of growing importance to identify strategies that may mitigate the harms related to marijuana use, reduce consumption levels, and limit resulting negative consequences among young adults who use marijuana. The purpose of this study was to develop and conduct initial psychometric analyses on a new scale, which we named the Protective Behavioral Strategies for Marijuana (PBSM) scale. METHOD: A sample of undergraduate college students who reported past-6-month marijuana use (n = 210) responded to the initial pool of PBSM items and completed measures of marijuana use, consequences from marijuana use, alcohol use, and protective behavioral strategies for alcohol. RESULTS: Results from an iterative principal component analyses process yielded a single-factor structure with 39 items. The PBSM mean composite score negatively associated with marijuana use and consequences, with the strongest correlations evident for past-month users. The PBSM also significantly positively correlated with alcohol protective strategies. CONCLUSIONS: Protective behavioral strategies for marijuana appear to be a measurable construct that are related to marijuana frequency and consequences, and thus may be a useful component of intervention and prevention programs with young adults. More work testing the PBSM items with larger and more diverse samples of young adults is encouraged.

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