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Among college students, anxiety sensitivity may be a risk factor for alcohol-related behaviors indirectly through negative urgency

Previous research has documented the relationship between anxiety sensitivity (AS) and problematic alcohol-related behaviors. A new study examined whether AS would exert an indirect effect on alcohol-related behaviors (i.e., sex-related alcohol negative con- sequences, negative consequences of alcohol use, and alcohol-related protective behavioral strategies) through negative urgency. Participants (N = 507) were college students attending a large southwestern university who reported at least one heavy episodic drinking (HED) event in the previous month and at least one lifetime sexual partner. Participants completed an online survey which included a series of questionnaires and questions related to demographics, alcohol use, anxiety sensitivity, impulsive behavior, sex-related alcohol negative consequences, negative consequences of alcohol use, and protective behavioral strategies (PBS). The authors used descriptive analyses and regression analyses using bootstrapping techniques to test for both direct and indirect effects of the variables. Results indicated that AS and negative urgency were positively correlated (p < .001). AS was positively related to sex-related alcohol negative consequences (p = .020) and negative consequences of alcohol use (p = .041). Negative urgency was positively correlated with sex-related alcohol negative consequences (p < .001) and negative consequences of alcohol use (p < .001) and negatively correlated with PBS (p = .018). Sex-related alcohol negative consequences and negative consequences of alcohol use were positively correlated (p < .001), and both were negatively correlated with PBS (p = .016 and p = .017, respectively). Furthermore, the independent indirect effect of AS on sex-related alcohol negative consequences through negative urgency was significant (26%). Specifically, greater AS was significantly associated with increased negative urgency, which was subsequently associated with increased sex-related alcohol negative consequences. Similarly, the independent indirect effect of AS on negative consequences of alcohol use through negative urgency was significant (40%). That is, greater AS was significantly associated with increased negative urgency, which was subsequently associated with the endorsement of negative consequences of alcohol use. Lastly, the independent indirect effect of AS on PBS through negative urgency was significant. Such that greater AS was significantly associated with increased negative urgency, which was subsequently associated with fewer PBS.

Take away: While anxiety sensitivity (AS) was not directly related to alcohol-related behaviors after accounting for negative urgency, AS did yield a significant indirect effect through negative urgency for sex-related alcohol negative consequences, negative consequences of alcohol use, and alcohol-related protective behavioral strategies.

Kauffman, B. Y., Garey, L., Paulus, D. J., Jardin, C., Viana, A. G., Neighbors, C., & Zvolensky, M. J. (2018). Anxiety Sensitivity in Association With Alcohol-Related Behaviors Among College Students: The Role of Negative Urgency. Journal of studies on alcohol and drugs79(2), 269-276.

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