Prevention Science

, Volume 12, Issue 4, pp 389–400 | Cite as

The Influence of Alcohol-Specific Communication on Adolescent Alcohol Use and Alcohol-Related Consequences

  • Alison ReimullerEmail author
  • Andrea Hussong
  • Susan T. Ennett


Alcohol-specific communication, a direct conversation between an adult and an adolescent regarding alcohol use, contains messages about alcohol relayed from the adult to the child. The current study examined the construct of alcohol-specific communication and the effect of messages on adolescent alcohol use and alcohol-related consequences. Parent-adolescent dyads were assessed biannually for 3 years (grades 9–11 at wave 6) to examine these relations in a large longitudinal study of adolescents initially in grades 6 through 8. An exploratory factor analysis identified two factors among alcohol-specific communication items, permissive messages and negative alcohol messages. Results showed previous level of adolescent alcohol use moderated the relation between permissive messages and alcohol use outcomes. Plotting of these interactions showed greater alcohol use and consequences with increasing permissive messages in adolescents with higher versus lower levels of previous alcohol use. Results suggest that parental messages regarding alcohol use may impact adolescent alcohol use beyond the effect of general parenting style and parental alcohol use.


Alcohol-specific Communication Messages Alcohol use Adolescent 


  1. Andrews, J. A., Hops, H., Ary, D. V., Tildesley, E., & Harris, J. (1993). Parental influence on early adolescent substance use: Specific and nonspecific effects. The Journal of Early Adolescence, 13, 285–310. doi: 10.1177/0272431693013003004.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bauman, K. E., Ennett, S. T., Foshee, V. A., Pemberton, M., King, T. S., & Koch, G. G. (2002). Influence of a family program on adolescent smoking and drinking prevalence. Prevention Science, 3, 35–42. doi: 10.1023/A:1014619325968.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Baumrind, D. (1991). The influence of parenting style on adolescent competence and substance use. The Journal of Early Adolescence, 11, 56–95. doi: 10.1177/0272431691111004.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bodner, T. E. (2008). What improves with increased missing data imputations? Structural Equation Modeling, 15, 651–675. doi: 10.1080/10705510802339072.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Booth-Butterfield, M., & Sidelinger, R. (1998). The influence of family communication on the college-aged child: Openness, attitudes and actions about sex and alcohol. Communication Quarterly, 46, 295–308.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Brody, G. H., Murry, V. M., Gerrard, M., Gibbons, F. X., Molgaard, V., McNair, L., et al. (2004). The Strong African American Families program: Translating research into prevention programming. Child Development, 75, 900–917. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2004.00713.x.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Ennett, S. T., Bauman, K. E., Foshee, V. A., Pemberton, M., & Hicks, K. A. (2001). Parent-child communication about adolescent tobacco and alcohol use: What do parents say and does it affect youth behavior? Journal of Marriage and the Family, 63, 48–62. doi: 10.1111/j.1741-3737.2001.00048.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Freire, K. E. (2008). Influence of parental socialization on adolescent alcohol misuse (ProQuest Information & Learning). Dissertation Abstracts International: Section B: The Sciences and Engineering, 69, 2267.Google Scholar
  9. Friedman, A. S., Glickman, N. W., & Morrissey, M. R. (1990). What mothers know about their adolescents’ alcohol/drug use and problems, and how mothers react to finding out about it. In A. S. Friedman & S. Granick (Eds.), Family therapy for adolescent drug abuse (pp. 169–181). Lexington, MA: Lexington Books.Google Scholar
  10. Gorsuch, R. L. (1983). Factor analysis. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  11. Graham, J. W., Olchowski, A. E., & Gilreath, T. D. (2007). How many imputations are really needed? Some practical clarifications of mutliple imputation theory. Prevention Science, 8, 206–213. doi: 10.1007/s11121-007-0070-9.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Harris, K. M., Halpern, C. T., Whitsel, E., Hussey, J., Tabor, J., Entzel, P., et al., 2009. The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health: Research Design [WWW document].
  13. Hill, N. E., & Tyson, D. F. (2008). Excavating culture: Ethnicity and context as predictors of parenting behavior. Applied Developmental Science, 12, 188–197. doi: 10.1080/10888690802388110.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Holbrook, A. L., Green, M. C., & Krosnick, J. A. (2003). Telephone versus face-to-face interviewing of national probability samples with long questionnaires: Comparisons of respondent satisficing and social desirability response bias. Public Opinion Quarterly, 67, 79–125. doi: 10.1086/346010.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Jackson, C., Henriksen, L., & Foshee, V. A. (1998). The Authoritative Parenting Index: Predicting health risk behaviors among children and adolescents. Health Education & Behavior, 25, 319–337. doi: 10.1177/109019819802500307.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Jackson, C., Henriksen, L., & Dickinson, D. (1999). Alcohol-specific socialization, parenting behaviors and alcohol use by children. Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 60, 362–367.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Johnston, L. D., O’Malley, P. M., Bachman, J. G., & Schulenberg, J. E. (2009). Monitoring the Future national results on adolescent drug use: Overview of key findings, 2008 (NIH Publication No. 09-7401). Bethesda, MD: National Institute on Drug Abuse.Google Scholar
  18. King, K. M., & Chassin, L. (2007). A prospective study of the effects of age of initiation of alcohol and drug use on young adult substance dependence. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 68, 256–265.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Miller-Day, M. (2002). Parent-adolescent communication about alcohol, tobacco and other drug use. Journal of Adolescent Research, 17, 604–616. doi: 10.1177/074355802237466.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Miller-Day, M. (2008). Talking to youth about drugs: What do late adolescents say about parental strategies? Family Relations, 57, 1–12. doi: 10.1111/j.1741-3729.2007.00478.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Miller-Day, M., & Dodd, A. H. (2004). Toward a descriptive model of parent-offspring communication about alcohol and other drugs. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 21, 69–91. doi: 10.1177/0265407504039846.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Office of National Drug Control Policy. (n.d.). National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign. Retrieved June 7, 2009, from
  23. Richman, W. L., Kiesler, S., Weisband, S., & Drasgow, F. (1999). A meta-analytic study of social desirability distortion in computer-administered questionnaires, traditional questionnaires, and interviews. The Journal of Applied Psychology, 84, 754–775. doi: 10.1037/0021-9010.84.5.754.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. SAS Institute Inc. (2009). SAS documentation, Version 9.2. Cary, NC: SAS Institute Inc.Google Scholar
  25. Shakib, S., Mouttapa, M., Johnson, C. A., Ritt-Olson, A., Trinidad, D. R., Gallaher, P. E., et al. (2003). Ethnic variation in parenting characteristics and adolescent smoking. The Journal of Adolescent Health, 33, 88–97. doi: 10.1016/S1054-139X(03)00140-X.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Spijkerman, R., van den Eijnden, R. J. J. M., & Huiberts, A. (2008). Socioeconomic differences in alcohol-specific parenting practices and adolescents’ drinking patterns. European Addiction Research, 14, 26–37. doi: 10.1159/000110408.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Results from the 2005 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: National Findings. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration; 2006. NSDUH Series H-30, DHHS publication SMA 06-4194.Google Scholar
  28. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2007). The Surgeon General’s call to action to prevent and reduce underage drinking: A guide to action for educators. Retrieved from
  29. van der Vorst, H., Engels, R. C. M. E., Meeus, W., Dekovic, M., & Van Leeuwe, J. (2005). The role of alcohol-specific socialization in adolescents’ drinking behaviour. Addiction, 100, 1464–1476. doi: 10.1111/j.1360-0443.2005.01193.x.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. van der Vorst, H., Engels, R. C. M. E., Meeus, W., & Dekovic, M. (2006). The impact of alcohol-specific rules, parental norms about early drinking and parental alcohol use on adolescents’ drinking behavior. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 47, 1299–1306.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. van der Vorst, H., Engels, R. C. M. E., Dekovic, M., Meeus, W., & Vermulst, A. A. (2007). Alcohol-specific rules, personality and adolescents’ alcohol use: A longitudinal person-environment study. Addiction, 102, 1064–1075. doi: 10.1111/j.1360-0443.2007.01855.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Williams, R. J., McDermitt, D. R., Bertrand, L. D., & Davis, R. M. (2003). Parental awareness of adolescent substance use. Addictive Behaviors, 28, 803–809. doi: 10.1016/S0306-4603(01)00275-1.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Wood, M. D., Read, J. P., Mitchell, R. E., & Brand, N. H. (2004). Do parents still matter? Parent and peer influences on alcohol involvement among recent high school graduates. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 18, 19–30. doi: 10.1037/0893-164X.18.1.19.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Society for Prevention Research 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alison Reimuller
    • 1
    Email author
  • Andrea Hussong
    • 1
  • Susan T. Ennett
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyThe University of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA
  2. 2.Department of Health Behavior and Health EducationThe University of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA

Personalised recommendations