PRC Projects

Sharon Lipperman-Kreda and Melina Bersamin

Previous studies about the relationship between alcohol drinking contexts and drinking-related problems among young people are limited in that they have (1) focused primarily on young adult college students, (2) relied on retrospective recall of past events and behaviors, (3) not focused on separating out the unique effects of drinking location (e.g. beach, or house party) and setting characteristics (e.g. group size, gender composition), (4) typically focused on a small number of drinking contexts and drinking-related problems (e.g. aggression or risky sex only), and (5) been cross-sectional and have not studied these relationships over time.

This research project overcomes the shortcomings that limit our understanding of the contribution of drinking contexts to alcohol related problems among youth and what approaches can be used to target high risk drinking contexts. Drinking contexts encompass the physical location and other setting characteristics that surround a particular drinking event.

The study is designed to:

  1. Identify and describe youth drinking contexts;
  2. Examine the relationships between youth drinking contexts and alcohol-related problems;
  3. Investigate whether and to what degree youth drinking contexts and the associations between drinking contexts and problems change developmentally;
  4. Study the independent contribution of drinking location and setting characteristics and the potential interaction among them in predicting youth alcohol-related problems.

The study uses telephone surveys obtained at two time points from youth in 24 mid-sized California cities. Wave 1 of the survey will allow to initially investigate drinking contexts, consumption, and problems cross-sectionally, as well as to identify drinking and non-drinking youth. The longitudinal design will also allow us to investigate changes across time in adolescents' drinking contexts and whether the selection of drinking contexts differs across periods of adolescent development.

The study also uses ecological momentary assessments (EMA) to obtain detailed real-time data from youth about alcohol use, drinking locations, and characteristics related to the drinking events. Specifically, the study uses cell phone interactive voice response surveys in which a central computer is programmed to administer verbal interviews. Youth will receive invitation calls to their cell phones to conduct the brief survey. The survey will start when the youth answers the phone. By pressing a number on the telephone keypad, youth can respond to survey items in a multiple-choice format (e.g., have you been drinking alcohol between 8-11pm?). They can also write texts to respond to brief open-ended questions (e.g., where are you?). The EMA study will allow us to (1) investigate the dynamic relationships among drinking contexts, consumption, and problems, and (2) inform the development of a comprehensive drinking contexts instrument for Wave 2.

This study will advance our understanding of how drinking contexts are related to drinking-related problems among youth. Ultimately, results from the study will provide key information for the development of interventions to prevent youth alcohol use and related negative outcomes.