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Publication - Dr Georgina MacArthur

    A qualitative investigation of the role of the family in structuring young people's alcohol use

    Citation

    Jacob, N, MacArthur, GJ, Campbell, R & Hickman, M, 2015, ‘A qualitative investigation of the role of the family in structuring young people's alcohol use’. European Journal of Public Health.

    Abstract

    BACKGROUND: Few qualitative studies have investigated young people's perspectives around influences on substance use. We aimed to examine young people's understandings, attitudes and experiences around alcohol, tobacco and cannabis use and factors influencing substance use behaviour.

    METHODS: Qualitative interview study involving 28 young people (13 males and 15 females) aged 18-20 years, recruited purposively on the basis of substance use, who were participating in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children. Interviews were conducted at participants' homes or at local cafés. Audio data were transcribed verbatim, systematically coded and analysed inductively using a constant comparative approach.

    RESULTS: Parental attitudes and behaviours and the nature of communication emerged as critical factors structuring young people's alcohol use. Initiation of alcohol use was frequently mediated by parents early in adolescence, with the home recounted as a primary site of early drinking experiences. Later in adolescence, young people perceived a more permissive stance towards alcohol use, with broad acceptance of high levels of consumption and recognition of drinking as a cultural norm during adolescence. In contrast, young people reported a more prohibitive and discouraging stance from their parents towards tobacco and cannabis use, and the use of these substances appeared to be of greater parental concern.

    CONCLUSIONS: Interventions involving parents or guardians have a critical role to play in the prevention of harms arising from alcohol use during adolescence. However, such interventions are needed in conjunction with individual, school, community and environmental interventions to shift cultural norms across the population and to facilitate effective prevention.

    Full details in the University publications repository