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J Youth Adolesc. 2011 Sep;40(9):1203-14. doi: 10.1007/s10964-010-9556-z. Epub 2010 Jun 9.

Physical, social, and perceived availabilities of alcohol and last month alcohol use in rural and small urban communities.

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Tri-Ethnic Center for Prevention Research, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523-1879, USA.


This study seeks to provide a greater understanding of the factors that determine the perceived availability of alcohol and its role in predicting adolescents' alcohol use. Participants were 151,703 7th-12th grade students (50% female) from a sample of 219 rural communities across the United States, with oversampling for predominantly Mexican-American and African-American communities. Multilevel analysis was used to estimate the perceived availability of alcohol as a function of physical and social availability measures and individual and community-level control variables. Physical availability was measured as the number of alcohol outlets in the community and whether beer and wine were sold in non-liquor stores. Social availability measured the availability of alcohol from social or family groups. Last month alcohol use was then estimated as a function of physical, social and perceived availabilities and control variables. Physical availability had little relationship to perceived availability or recent alcohol use while social availability was a strong predictor of both. Perceived availabilities at the individual and community levels were significant in predicting last month alcohol use. The findings suggest that altering both perceived and actual availability of alcohol can potentially have strong effects on the levels of adolescent alcohol use.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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