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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 201615 Find in a Library
Title: Reference Group Influence on Adolescent Alcohol Use
Author(s): J. L. Fitzgerald; Stephan Arndt
Date Published: 2003
Page Count: 15
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This study assessed the relative influence of peer, school, home, and neighborhood/community on the perceived level of support for an adolescent’s alcohol use.
Abstract: Several studies have consistently confirmed that various attributes in four social environments (peer, home, school, and neighborhood/community) can have significant direct and mediating effects on adolescents’ drinking related behaviors. Adolescent alcohol prevention programs have targeted each of these environments with varying levels of success. This suggests the possibility that the effect of an attribute in one environment may be offset by attributes in one or more of the other environments. Recent studies designed to assess the relative significance of attributes in each of these environments have found peer attributes to have the most influence, followed closely by home attributes. However, a good deal of inconsistency of results exists between these two environments in particular and all four environments in general. These inconsistencies can be attributed to a number of factors, the most notable of which is the use of multiple regression analysis which can lead to misleading results. The current study assessed the relative influence of the four environments based on a common attribute and used bivariate correlation and drinking outcome prevalence rate comparison analyses to avoid misleading conclusions that might be drawn from multiple regression analyses. Data were drawn from students (n=85,426) who participated in the 1999 Iowa Youth Survey (IYS) and covered grades 6, 8, and 11, as well as 14- to 18-year-olds enrolled in alternative school programs. Independent bivariate correlations and drinking outcome prevalence rate comparisons were used to identify the potential role that each reference group’s attitudes might have on the respondent’s drinking behavior. Results of the study indicate a strong correlation between each alcohol use indicator (current, frequent, and heavy) and each of the reference groups (best friends, most students in school, live-in parents/guardians, and most adults in neighborhood/community) and were noted for the total sample, and across each gender and each grade. The findings support two basic conclusions: 1) each reference groups perceived level of support for an adolescent’s alcohol use, as well as their combined total, does have a potential to influence an adolescent’s decision to use alcohol; and 2) the influence of best friend unequivocal approval of drinking can be reduced significantly by school, home and neighborhood/community reference group unequivocal disapproval. While the results of the study are limited due to the nature of the sample (mostly rural and not ethnically diverse), they do provide several implications for prevention-related programs. Further longitudinal studies are recommended. 9 references,6 tables, and author note
Main Term(s): Juveniles
Index Term(s): Alcohol abuse; Parental influence; Underage Drinking; Underage Drinking Programs
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