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Pre-drinking motives in Canadian undergraduate students: Confirmatory factor analysis of the Prepartying Motivations Inventory and examination of new themes

The act of consuming alcohol before going to an event where more alcohol may be consumed, termed pre-drinking, is becoming increasingly common among college students. Studies in the United States have found that between 50% and 60% of students and 80% of student drinkers engage in pre-drinking. Pre-drinking is problematic because it is associated with higher blood alcohol levels, risky behaviors, and more alcohol-related consequences. One potential reason for pre-drinking is because underage students cannot purchase alcohol at bars and events. Researchers examined pre-drinking in Canada, where the drinking age is 19, to determine whether pre-drinking exists independently from the legal drinking age in the U.S.  Undergraduate students in Ontario completed an online survey (n = 276), all of which reported consuming alcohol and 89.9% reported engaging in pre-drinking. Participants were asked about their reasons for pre-drinking using the Prepartying Motivations Inventory (PMI) that included 16 different motives in 4 categories (interpersonal enhancement, situational control, intimate pursuit, and barriers to consumption). Among the predefined motives on the PMI, interpersonal enhancement was the most highly endorsed reason for pre-drinking. Monetary concern was identified by more than half of participants and 31% of participants identified socialization with close friends as a reason for pre-drinking. Additionally, 11% reported peer influence as a reason for pre-drinking. Barriers to consumption were only reported as a motive by 4% of participants.

Take away: This study provides evidence that pre-drinking is not primarily a function of being underage, given that the majority of the students surveyed were of legal drinking age in Ontario. Because pre-drinking is so prevalent among college students and has been shown to lead to greater alcohol-related consequences, campuses should develop alcohol intervention programs that directly address motives for pre-drinking.

O’Neil, A.I., Lafreniere, K.D., & Jackson, D.L. (2016) Pre-drinking motives in Canadian undergraduate students: Confirmatory factor analysis of the Prepartying Motivations Inventory and examination of new themes. Addictive Behaviors, 60, 42-47.

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