Recent Alcohol Use and Episodic Heavy Drinking among Hispanic Youth

By King, Keith A.; Vidourek, Rebecca A. | American Journal of Health Education, July-August 2010 | Go to article overview
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Recent Alcohol Use and Episodic Heavy Drinking among Hispanic Youth


King, Keith A., Vidourek, Rebecca A., American Journal of Health Education


ABSTRACT

Background: A sizeable percentage of Hispanic youth are affected by alcohol use. Research is needed to identify specific factors placing Hispanic youth at elevated risk. Purpose: This study examined whether recent alcohol use (past 30 days) and frequent episodic heavy drinking among 7th-12th grade Hispanic students (N = 946) in Greater Cincinnati schools differed based on perceived harm of use, ease of access and parent/peer disapproval of use. Methods: The PRIDE national survey for grades 6-12 was administered to youth in their school classrooms. Results: One-in-four (24.5%) recently used alcohol and one-in-seven (15.2%) frequently (often& lot) engaged in episodic heavy drinking. Students at highest risk for recent alcohol use and frequent episodic heavy drinking were those who felt use was not harmful/somewhat harmful, felt alcohol access was fairly easy/very easy and had parents/peers who did not disapprove of use. Discussion: These results should be considered when developing and implementing alcohol prevention efforts for Hispanic youth. Ongoing parent-child communication, rule-setting and rule enforcement should be encouraged. Translation to Health Education Practice: Findings can assist health educators to more thoroughly understand how perceived harm, ease of access and parent/peer disapproval affect recent alcohol use and episodic heavy drinking among Hispanic youth.

Am J Health Educ. 2010;41 (4):231-243. This paper was submitted to the Journal on November 10, 2009, revised and accepted for publication on February 4, 2010.

BACKGROUND

Despite numerous prevention efforts, a sizeable percentage of Hispanic youth continue to be affected by alcohol use. (1) Nearly half (47.6%) of Hispanic high school students have used alcohol in the past 30 days, compared to 47.3% of white and 34.5% of African American youth. (2) One-in-four Hispanic males (28.3%) and females (25.3%) report engaging in current episodic heavy drinking, defined as drinking five or more alcoholic beverages within a few hours.

Hispanic youth begin drinking at an earlier age than white youth (3) with 29.0% of Hispanic youth drinking alcohol before the age of 13, compared to 21.5% of white youth. (2) Early age of first use is associated with increased risk of suicide, violence, delinquency and alcohol abuse. (4-7) Those who drink before age 14 are four times more likely to develop alcohol abuse and dependence than those who begin drinking at age 21. (8)

Perceived harm of alcohol use affects individuals' intention to use alcohol. (9) However, the majority of students do not perceive alcohol use as harmful. Data from the most recent Monitoring the Future Study revealed that 14.9% of 8th graders, 11.6% of 10th graders and 8.3% of 12th graders drinking alcohol was harmful. (1) Despite this research, little is specifically known regarding Hispanic youth's perceptions regarding harm of alcohol use and how such perceived harm may impact recent use and episodic heavy drinking.

Similarly, whereas ease of access to alcohol has been shown to positively correlate with youth alcohol consumption, (10) a paucity of studies has specifically examined Hispanic youth perceived ease in obtaining alcohol. Research indicates that youth who are able to obtain alcohol tend to drink more frequently than their counterparts (11,12) and tend to have higher levels of alcohol-related problems. (13,14) However, studies are needed to investigate the potential effect of perceived accessibility of alcohol on Hispanic youth involvement in recent alcohol use and episodic heavy drinking.

General population studies have found that youth are at elevated risk for alcohol use if there are low levels of parental monitoring and parental involvement (15) and high levels of parental alcohol use. (16) Parental disapproval of youth alcohol use tends to serve as a protective factor against underage drinking. (17) Among Hispanic youth, high levels of parental supervision and parental support have been shown to be strong correlates to decreased alcohol use.

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