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J Stud Alcohol. 1999 May;60(3):352-61.

Adolescent problem drinking: stability of psychosocial and behavioral correlates across a generation.

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  • 1Pittsburgh Adolescent Alcohol Research Center, Department of Psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pennsylvania 15213-2593, USA.



Research conducted in the 1970s demonstrated that Problem Behavior Theory could account for approximately 40% of the variance in problem drinking in both local and national sample studies. The present analyses sought to determine whether the personality, perceived environment, and behavior variables of the framework continue to contribute to the explanation of problem drinking among contemporary American youth.


Correlational and multiple regression analyses were performed on six separate databases collected at different times between 1972 and 1992. Due to sociodemographic differences among the samples, separate analyses were performed for male and female adolescents, and age, ethnicity and socioeconomic status were statistically controlled.


There was considerable consistency across the samples in both the partial correlations and the partial multiple correlations, and this result held for both genders. Not only did the framework account for the same percentage of the variance (40%) in problem drinking in the 1992 data as it did in the 1972 data, but the results for the intervening years were consistent as well.


The consistency of results over a 20-year period confirms that the social-psychological meaning of adolescent involvement in problem drinking has remained stable despite changes in the larger sociohistorical context.

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