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J Abnorm Psychol. 1991 Nov;100(4):427-48.

Characteristics of children of alcoholics: putative risk factors, substance use and abuse, and psychopathology.

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Department of Psychology, University of Missouri, Columbia 65211.


A sample of 253 children of alcoholics (COAs) and 237 children of nonalcoholics (non-COAs) were compared on alcohol and drug use, psychopathology, cognitive ability, and personality. COAs reported more alcohol and drug problems, stronger alcohol expectancies, higher levels of behavioral undercontrol and neuroticism, and more psychiatric distress in relation to non-COAs. They also evidenced lower academic achievement and less verbal ability than non-COAs. COAs were given Diagnostic Interview Schedule alcohol diagnoses more frequently than non-COAs. The relation between paternal alcoholism and offspring alcohol involvement was mediated by behavioral undercontrol and alcohol expectancies. Although gender differences were found, there were few Gender X Family History interactions; the effects of family history of alcoholism were similar for men and women. When gender effects were found, they showed greater family history effects for women.

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