Method: The sample includes 815 nightclub patrons (44.2% female; mean age = 27.7; SD = 6.0) in the San Francisco, CA area, arriving in 324 distinct groups, from seven clubs hosting EMDEs, across 30 different evenings. Club patrons were surveyed anonymously and completed breath tests as they entered and exited clubs. Patrons reported perceived cohesion with their group members (e.g., people in the group are willing to help each other), as well as use of actions to keep oneself safe, actions to keep group members safe, and actions in response to group AOD problems. Oral fluid samples at exit assessed drug use. Mixed model regressions examined group cohesion as a predictor after controlling for individual and group characteristics, and past 30-day drinking/drug use at clubs.
Results: Findings partially confirm the hypothesis. Patrons who perceive greater group cohesion engage in fewer preventive strategies to keep themselves and their group safe during the night, and those who perceive greater group cohesion implement fewer actions in response to group AOD problems. Group cohesion was unrelated to AOD use.
Conclusions: Findings suggest that prevention strategies should consider how to incorporate the influences of group cohesion as part of efforts to actively engage in group safety strategies and vigilance in club settings. Strategies focusing simply on building group camaraderie may be ineffective, as safety strategies should be addressed in the context of group familiarity.