Three measurement strategies for examining time allocation and college alcohol use : a methodological study
[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT AUTHOR'S REQUEST.] Heavy alcohol use continues to be a noteworthy concern for both college students and college/university campuses. Research suggests behavioral economic principles, such as substance-free and substance-related reinforcement, offer a theoretical basis for understanding and predicting risky alcohol use. A component of substance-free and substance-related reinforcement includes time allocation (i.e., how many hours a day one spends engaging in various activities). Previous research has used time allocation data to determine which types of activities are negative and positive predictors of alcohol use among college students. However, research has not yet explored optimal methodologies for measuring time allocation. Therefore, the current methodological study utilized three different analytical techniques: ratio-based approach; variable-centered approach (principal component analysis); and person-centered approach (latent profile analysis) to establish best practices for measuring time allocation as it relates to alcohol use among college students. Participants were 380 first and second year undergraduate students from two large public universities who reported two or more binge drinking episodes within the past month. Results indicated the proportional ratio-based approach yielded the strongest association with the alcohol use variables. The variable-centered approach did not produce interpretable data. The person-centered approach grouped individuals into distinct profiles based on their reported time allocation, and revealed a unique relationship between time allocation profiles and two alcohol use variables. Clinical and research implications, future directions, and limitations are discussed.
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