Hurting, Helping, or Neutral? The Effects of Parental Permissiveness Toward Adolescent Drinking on College Student Alcohol Use and Problems
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To enhance prevention efforts to reduce college drinking, parents have been identified as an important source of influence that can be modified with brief interventions. Research suggests parental permissiveness toward drinking in adolescence is positively related to college student drinking, though existing studies have not comprehensively accounted for potential confounders (e.g., parental drinking). The present study used propensity modeling to estimate the effects of pre-college parental permissiveness on college student drinking and consequences while accounting for an inclusive range of confounders. A random sample of 1,518 incoming students at a large university completed baseline measures of parental permissiveness and a list of confounders (e.g., parental drinking, family history). At follow-up 15 months later, participants reported on their drinking and alcohol-related consequences. To control for potential confounders, individuals were weighted based on their propensity scores to obtain less biased estimates of the effects of parental permissiveness on drinking and consequences. Analyses revealed parental permissiveness was consistently and positively associated with college drinking and consequences when the confounders were not accounted for, but these effects were attenuated after weighting. Parents' allowance of drinking was not related to college drinking or consequences after weighting. Students' perceived parental limits for consumption were related to drinking and consequences in the weighted models. Prevention efforts may benefit from targeting parents' communication of acceptable limits for alcohol consumption.
KeywordsCollege student drinking Parental permissiveness Propensity model
This research was supported by grant R01AA015737 from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism to Rob Turrisi, Ph.D. Analysis and preparation of this manuscript were supported by grant F31AA021302-01A1 from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism to Lindsey Varvil-Weld and grant T32DA0176 from the National Institute of Drug Abuse to Max Crowley.
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