Multilevel covariance structure analysis of sibling substance use and intrafamily conflict

  • Terry E. Duncan
  • Anthony Alpert
  • Susan C. Duncan
  • Hyman Hops


Conventional covariance structure analysis, such as factor analysis, is often applied to data that are obtained in a hierarchical fashion, such as siblings observed within families. A more appropriate specification is demonstrated which explicitly models the within-level and between-level covariance matrices of sibling substance use and intrafamily conflict. Participants were 267 target adolescents (mean age=13.11 years) and 318 siblings (mean age=15.03 years). The level of homogeneity within sibling clusters, and heterogeneity among families, was sufficient to conduct a multilevel covariance structure analysis (MCA). Parental and family-level variables consisting of marital status, socioeconomic status, marital discord, parent use, and modeling of substances were used to explain heterogeneity among families. Marital discord predicted intrafamily conflict, and parent marital status and modeling of substances predicted sibling substance use. Advantages and uses of hierarchical designs and conventional covariance structure software for multilevel data are discussed.

Key words

substance use multilevel structural equation modeling analyses siblings parents adolescents 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Terry E. Duncan
    • 1
  • Anthony Alpert
    • 1
  • Susan C. Duncan
    • 1
  • Hyman Hops
    • 1
  1. 1.Oregon Research InstituteEugene

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