Examining the associations between alcohol-related parental communication, alcohol use, and protective behavioral strategy use among young adults

Dana M. Litt, Tracey A. Garcia, Ashley Lowery, Cassidy LoParco, Annalynn M. Galvin, Mary E. Larimer, Melissa A. Lewis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Underage alcohol use is a public health concern as it remains prevalent and problematic. Protective behavioral strategies (PBS) may prevent or reduce alcohol-related consequences, yet daily-level findings show they instead might be associated with increased drinking and consequences. While parents are a possible source of influence to their child's decision making, it is unclear whether parental communication about alcohol affects drinking outcomes, with mixed findings noted in the literature. Furthermore, little research focuses on understanding how parental communication may impact the use of PBS. This study assessed whether alcohol specific parental communication would be associated with reduced drinking and increased use of PBS. Data from baseline and 3-month follow up were evaluated from a control group of a larger randomized controlled trial on 18- to 20-year-olds in the U.S. (N = 269). Outcomes included drinks per week, peak drinks per occasion, negative consequences and use of PBS. Using negative binomial regression modeling, controlling for age, sex, and whether participants lived with parents, findings revealed that parental communication was not associated with drinks per week, peak drinks per occasion, or negative consequences reported 3 months later. However, it was positively associated with limiting/stopping drinking PBS, manner of drinking PBS, and serious harm reduction PBS reported 3 months later. Results suggest that parental communication about alcohol may be more effective in increasing the use of protective behavioral strategies rather than reduction of drinking. Research is needed to determine why parental communication may influence the use of PBS and how we can strengthen the quality or focus of communication to ultimately increase the impact on risk behaviors.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106398
JournalAddictive Behaviors
StatePublished - Aug 2020


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