Prevention Science

, Volume 8, Issue 1, pp 65–73 | Cite as

Do Competence Skills Moderate the Impact of Social Influences to Drink and Perceived Social Benefits of Drinking on Alcohol Use Among Inner-City Adolescents?

  • Jennifer A. EpsteinEmail author
  • Xi Kathy Zhou
  • Heejung Bang
  • Gilbert J. Botvin
Original Paper


Only a few studies have found competence skills to be a protective factor against adolescent alcohol use; others did not find a direct effect on alcohol. A possible reason for this is that competence skills may moderate the effects of risk factors for alcohol use and that aspect has not been examined often or in a longitudinal design. This study tested whether several competence skills served either as direct protective factors against alcohol use or moderators of the impact of social risk factors on alcohol use. Participants (N = 1318) completed questionnaires that included measures of decision-making skills, refusal skill techniques, resisting media influences, friends’ drinking and perceived social benefits of drinking, as well as current drinking amount and future drinking at baseline, one-year follow-up and two-year follow-up. Data analyses were conducted using multi-level mixed effects generalized linear models with random intercept. All the competence skills and the risk factors predicted current and future drinking. Several significant interactions were found between (1) perceived social benefits of drinking and decision-making skills, (2) perceived social benefits of drinking and refusal skill techniques and (3) friends’ drinking and refusal skill techniques. Competence skills served as protective factors, as well as moderators. One possible reason that competence enhancement approaches to alcohol prevention are effective may be due to the inclusion of the competence skills component.


Adolescent drinking Competence skills Social influences to drink Ethnic minority 



This study was supported by grant 5 R03AA14388-01 from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism to Dr. Epstein. Funds from the National Institute for Drug Abuse to Dr. Botvin also partially supported this research. We extend our thanks to Dr. Madhu Mazumdar for statistical advice and Ms. Kylie Bryant for editorial assistance.


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Copyright information

© Society of Prevention Research 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jennifer A. Epstein
    • 1
    Email author
  • Xi Kathy Zhou
    • 1
  • Heejung Bang
    • 1
  • Gilbert J. Botvin
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Public HealthInstitute for Prevention Research, Cornell University, Weill Medical CollegeNew YorkUSA

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