Reagan E. Fitzke, Toni Atieh, Jordan P. Davis, Liv Canning, Denise D. Tran, Keegan Buch, Justin F. Hummer, Eric R. Pedersen

A latent profile analysis of social anxiety, depression, and pregaming motives among heavy‐drinking college students

AbstractBackgroundPregaming is a high‐risk drinking behavior that is associated with heavy drinking and negative alcohol‐related consequences. College students may engage in pregaming for several reasons, including to enhance social experiences or cope with negative affect. Research shows that associations between drinking, social anxiety, and depression are multifaceted. However, our understanding of the complex associations of mental health symptoms with pregaming motives and behaviors remains limited.MethodsThis study examined heterogeneity in how pregaming motives, social anxiety, and depression associate with past 30‐day pregaming variables (quantity, frequency, and negative consequences). We used latent profile analysis (LPA) in a sample of heavy‐drinking university students (N = 479).ResultsLPA results indicated four profiles: mild/moderate social anxiety and depression symptoms, moderate motives (n = 285), minimal social anxiety and depression symptoms, low motives (n = 61), subclinical/elevated social anxiety and depression symptoms, high motives (n = 75), and clinically elevated social anxiety and depression symptoms, moderate motives (n = 58). The subclinical/elevated symptoms, high motives profile reported the highest pregaming frequency and consequences, including blackouts. Individuals in the clinically elevated symptoms, moderate motives profile reported more consequences than those in the minimal symptoms, low motives and mild/moderate symptoms, moderate motives profiles. Individuals in the minimal symptoms, low motives profile reported the fewest consequences.ConclusionsAmong these students, social anxiety and pregaming motives were associated with more frequent pregaming and social anxiety and depression were associated with greater negative consequences. Interventions that target pregaming‐specific motives among students with mental health symptoms may be warranted to reduce this risky behavior and associated drinking‐related harm.

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