Prospective Effects of Family Cohesion on Alcohol-Related Problems in Adolescence: Similarities and Differences by Race/Ethnicity

Ben T. Reeb, Sut Yee Shirley Chan, Katherine J. Conger, Monica J. Martin, Nicole D. Hollis, Joyce Serido, Stephen T. Russell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Research increasingly finds that race/ethnicity needs to be taken into account in the modelling of associations between protective factors and adolescent drinking behaviors in order to understand family effects and promote positive youth development. The current study examined racial/ethnic variation in the prospective effects of family cohesion on adolescent alcohol-related problems using a nationally representative sample. Data were drawn from the first two waves of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health and included 10,992 (50 % female) non-Hispanic Asian, non-Hispanic Black, Latino, and non-Hispanic White 7th–12th graders. Consistent with Hirschi’s social control theory of youth delinquency, higher levels of family cohesion predicted lower levels of future adolescent alcohol-related problems, independent of race/ethnicity, sex, age, baseline alcohol-related problems, and family socioeconomic status. Findings from moderation analyses indicated that the magnitude of associations differed across groups such that the protective effect of family cohesion was strongest among White adolescents. For Latino adolescents, family cohesion was not associated with alcohol-related problems. Future longitudinal cross-racial/ethnic research is needed on common and unique mechanisms underlying differential associations between family processes and adolescent high-risk drinking. Understanding these processes could help improve preventive interventions, identify vulnerable subgroups, and inform health policy aimed at reducing alcohol-related health disparities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1941-1953
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Youth and Adolescence
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 13 2015

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research uses data from Add Health, a program project directed by Kathleen Mullan Harris and designed by J. Richard Udry, Peter S. Bearman, and Kathleen Mullan Harris at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and funded by Grant P01-HD31921 from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, with cooperative funding from 23 other federal agencies and foundations. Special acknowledgment is due Ronald R. Rindfuss and Barbara Entwisle for assistance in the original design. Information on Add Health data is available on the Add Health website ( ). Support for the present study was provided by a grant from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (AA020270), and by the Department of Human Ecology, Program in Human Development and Family Studies, the UC Davis Center for Poverty Research, the John & Doris Norton School of Consumer and Family Economics, and a Faculty Research Award to Katherine J. Conger. No direct support was received from Grant P01-HD31921 for this analysis.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015, Springer Science+Business Media New York.


  • Adolescence
  • Alcohol-related problems
  • Family cohesion
  • Race/ethnicity


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