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Situational Context and Motives of Alcohol Use Among Graduate Student Drinkers

While much is known about drinking habits of young adult undergraduate students, not as much research is focused on young adult graduate students. The current study attempts to find alcohol use motives among graduate student drinkers, identify situational context of alcohol use, look at demographic and program characteristics, and find how these factors are associated with alcohol consumption.

Graduate students were eligible for the study if they were over the age of 18, enrolled in a masters or doctorate-level program, and indicated drinking in the last 30 days. The final sample size was 2683 students and the average age was 27. The researchers asked participants questions about demographics, graduate degree type, alcohol consumption, alcohol use motives, and situational context of alcohol use. Alcohol use motives were assessed using a scale that measured enhancement motives, social motives, and conformity motives. Situational context was assessed by asking where participants drink such as with a large group of friends, at a bar/nightclub, on weekdays, etc.

Results showed the most common motive for drinking was social reasons followed by enhancement, coping, and conformity. The data showed drinking for social reasons correlated to being younger, female, unmarried, and not having children. Drinking for conformity reasons was found to be correlated to being female, race/ethnicity, an international student, and unemployed. Drinking for non-social situations was found to be associated with being older. Overall, coping motives were associated with frequency while conformity motives were inversely associated. Student who are drinking for enhancement reasons in social contexts along with those who drinking for coping reasons in nonsocial reasons were found to be at the highest risk. Due to graduate students becoming a large proportion of the young adult population, learning more about alcohol use motives and context is important when providing support to these students.

Take Away: Graduate students are made up of predominantly young adults and the current study attempts to find alcohol use motives in these individuals and how different factors are associated with alcohol consumption. The study included 2,683 graduate students with an average age of 27 and they were asked about demographics, graduate degree type, alcohol consumption, alcohol use motives, and situation context of alcohol use. Students drinking for enhancement reasons in social contexts along with those who drinking for coping reasons in nonsocial reasons are the students this study shows to be at the highest risk. Due to graduate students becoming a large proportion of the young adult population, learning more about alcohol use motives and context is become more important.

Allen, H. K., Barrall, A. L., Beck, K. H., Vincent, K. B., & Arria, A. M. (2020). Situational context and motives of alcohol use among graduate student drinkers. Addictive Behaviors, 104, 106267. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2019.106267

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