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Examining the Associations Between Alcohol-Related Parental Communication, Alcohol Use, and Protective Behavioral Strategy Use Among Young Adults

A large portion of young adults report using alcohol leading to a desire to identifying protective factors to prevent negative consequences. Another question that often arises is how parental communication plays a role in young adult alcohol use. This study attempts to extend previous research to examine alcohol-related parental communication and see if it is associated with any alcohol-related strategies to lessen negative consequences.

The current study used data from a randomized controlled trial with 269 young adults (18-20 years). Data was taken at baseline and at a 3-month assessment. Measures included parental communication, typical number of drinks per week, peak number of drinks, negative consequences, protective behavioral strategies survey (PBSS), and covariates. Parental communication evaluation included 26 items that started with “within the past year, my mother/father/guardian talked with me about…” The PBSS included asking participants if they had used different protective strategies while drinking alcohol.

Results showed participants had discussed less than half of the alcohol-related topics at baseline measurements and the mean drinks per week at 3 month follow-up was 12. Average peak drinks were 8 and there was an average of 7 negative consequences reported at the follow-up. Overall, researchers found parental communication was not associated with amount consumed, peak consumed, or negative consequences.  They did find that parental communication was positively associated with several protective behavioral strategies including limiting/stopping drinking, manner of drinking, and serious harm reduction. These finding show communication may help young adults use protective strategies when drinking, but not necessarily reduce amount of alcohol consumed.

Take Away: Young adults are at a high risk for alcohol consumption and the current study attempts to examine alcohol-related parental communication to see if it is associated with any alcohol-related strategies to lessen negative consequences. The study included 269 young adults (18-20 years) and included a baseline measurement and 3-month follow up. Overall, researchers found that parental communication was found to not be associated with amount consumed, peak consumed, or negative consequences.  They did find that parental communication was positively associated with several protective behavioral strategies including limiting/stopping drinking, manner of drinking, and serious harm reduction. These finding shows that this communication may help young adults use protective strategies, but not necessarily reduce drinking.

Litt, D. M., Garcia, T. A., Lowery, A., Loparco, C., Galvin, A. M., Larimer, M. E., & Lewis, M. A. (2020). Examining the associations between alcohol-related parental communication, alcohol use, and protective behavioral strategy use among young adults. Addictive Behaviors, 107, 106398. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2020.106398

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