Distinctions between black and white young women in the course of alcohol use

Project Details


DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): The gender gap in alcohol use and problem drinking is closing. The development of effective prevention programs for young women requires an in-depth understanding of the environmental conditions that protect against or elevate liability to risky drinking and the differences between racial/ethnic groups in the relative influences of those factors. This secondary data analysis project builds on the documented differences between African-American (AA) and White young women in the prevalence of alcohol use, alcohol use disorders (AUDs), and risk factors associated with AUDs to examine possible distinctions in transitions through drinking course, with the goal of refining models of alcohol use and misuse in AA girls and young women. The underrepresentation of AA females in large-scale alcohol studies has made investigations of the fine-grain alcohol phenotypes that capture the dynamic nature of alcohol use (e.g., rate of progression from first drink to problem drinking) very challenging. The proposed early stage investigator R01 addresses this gap in alcohol research by analyzing data from three large-scale studies of alcohol use and related psychopathology in young AA and White women (twin, high-risk family and urban adolescent/young adult samples, total n=6,705, 33% AA), each of which collected detailed alcohol use history and information on psychiatric and psychosocial conditions in multiple waves of data collection. The project focuses in particular on the role of two early environmental factors that differ by race: childhood trauma, a potent risk factor for a range of psychiatric conditions, and parental monitoring, an important target of study because of its modifiability. The timing of marijuana use initiation is also examined as a possible modifier of drinking course because of the elevated prevalence of use and initiation of use before alcohol in AA young women. The proposed project is designed to (1) identify distinctions between AA and White young women in the timing of transitions between stages of alcohol use and of initiation of alcohol relative to marijuana use; (2) examine differences by race in factors that contribute to early trauma and parental monitoring as well as the subsequent influence of these early environmental factors on alcohol outcomes; and (3) explore sources of variability in the contribution of early trauma and parental monitoring to the progression of alcohol use (e.g., interaction of early trauma with genetic liability to AUDs). Findings will lead to improvements in assessment of risk and protective factors for early and problem drinking in AA and White young women and guide culturally appropriate prevention efforts.
Effective start/end date2/5/1510/31/20


  • National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism: $313,125.00
  • National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism: $312,921.00
  • National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism: $310,910.00
  • National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism: $324,540.00


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