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Home > What differentiates adolescent problematic drinkers from their peers? Results from a cross-sectional study in Northern Irish school children.

McKay, Michael T and Sumnall, Harry and Goudie, Andrew J and Field, Matt and Cole, Jon C (2011) What differentiates adolescent problematic drinkers from their peers? Results from a cross-sectional study in Northern Irish school children. Drugs: Education Prevention and Policy, 18, (3), pp. 187-199. 10.3109/09687637.2010.502160.

Aim: To investigate whether or not a range of factors were associated with problematic drinking, as assessed using the Adolescent Alcohol Involvement Scale (AAIS) in a sample of 11–16-year olds in Northern Ireland.

Methods: The study used a cross-sectional experimental design. Post-primary schools in the Eastern Health Board Area of Northern Ireland were targeted and 1137 participants were recruited of whom 1057 (93%) successfully completed a battery of questionnaires. These measured parent and peer Attachment, self-efficacy, self-esteem, academic motivation, alcohol outcome expectancies, parental rules on alcohol use and alcohol use (if any).

Findings: Multinomial logistic regression revealed that more problematic alcohol use was predicted by being in higher school year, higher reported positive outcome expectancies and lower negative outcome expectancies, less strict and/or clear parental rules on alcohol consumption, lower academic self-efficacy, higher social self-efficacy and less trust of parents.

Conclusions: Preventative and/or harm reduction initiatives with this age group need to be aware of these as factors which differentiate adolescent drinkers. In particular, the findings suggest the potential need for age and gender specific interventions which challenge social norms about alcohol consumption, and the potential viability of family/school relationship-building interventions


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