INCREASE IN EXPOSURE TO PEER DRINKERS AS A PREDICTOR OF INCREASE IN POSITIVE ALCOHOL EXPECTATIONS IN EARLY ADOLESCENTS
Sadler, Michele DeBarthe
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It has been shown repeatedly in studies, and is now widely accepted, that adolescents' expectations about the consequences of using alcohol influence their initiation and continuation of alcohol use. Nevertheless, how expectations about alcohol use develop and change during adolescence has been examined in relatively few studies. That exposure to peer drinkers influences adolescents' expectations has been hypothesized by many researchers, though few have examined this influence. Because alcohol use is common among adolescents and is a risk factor for morbidity and mortality, a better understanding of the relationship between exposure to peer drinkers and change in alcohol expectations among early adolescents' could inform interventions to prevent alcohol use and abuse. This study involved secondary quantitative data analyses using latent growth curve modeling. The data set was from an intervention demonstration project by the National Institute for Child Health and Human Development, and included longitudinal self-reported data of adolescent drinking, drinking expectations, and peer drinking. To avoid any treatment effect on the research questions, these analyses were conducted using only the non-intervention control group of this data set. The purpose of these analyses was to examine the influence of the increase in exposure to peer drinkers on the increase in positive alcohol expectations. In addition, these analyses examined whether increase in alcohol use indirectly influenced the increase of positive alcohol expectations through the increase in exposure to peer drinkers among early adolescents. Results of the latent growth curve analyses further confirm the influence that positive alcohol expectations have on actual alcohol use as previously reported in the literature. In addition, these analyses provide preliminary evidence that increase in exposure to peer drinkers increases positive alcohol expectations. The analyses also provide preliminary evidence that adolescents' personal use of alcohol influences their alcohol expectations indirectly through increased exposure to peer drinkers.