What is Worse? A Hierarchy of Family-Related Risk Factors Predicting Alcohol Use in Adolescence Academic Article uri icon


  • The aim of the present study was to determine if family structure, perception of excessive drinking in the family, and family bonding hold a graduated importance in predicting adolescent alcohol use and their association with peers who drink excessively. Three nested linear structural models were calculated separately for frequent and excessive drinking, based on a sample of 3,127 eighth and ninth graders in Switzerland (mean age 15.3, SD 0.8) surveyed in spring 2002 in the context of the "Health Behavior in School-Aged Children (HBSC)" study. The results confirm that the perception of excessive drinking in the family is more closely related to both frequent and excessive drinking than family structure, and family bonding is more closely related than drinking perception. Adjusting for both socio-demographic variables and the association with peers who drink excessively only slightly changed the results. To predict an association with the latter, family structure was more important than the perception of drinking, but family bonding remained the predominant predictor. The results stress the graduated importance of family-related risk factors: by listening to their children's worries, by spending their free time with them, and by providing help when needed, parents might have the possibility to actively minimize the risk of frequent and excessive drinking regardless of whether they are frequent excessive drinkers or live without a partner.

publication date

  • January 1, 2006