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J Health Commun. 2013 Aug;18(8):913-30. doi: 10.1080/10810730.2013.768729. Epub 2013 Jun 14.

A panel study of peer norms and adolescent alcohol consumption: developing strategies for communication interventions.

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Department of Communication, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843, USA.


Given that alcohol consumption and binge drinking among adolescents in the United States remain prevalent, this study assesses changes in the influence of peer norms-and their interactions with time, gender, and ethnicity-on alcohol consumption. Panel survey interviews of adolescents (N = 1,607) were completed in 9th grade and then again in 12th grade with students from Louisiana. Fixed effects multiple regression assessed the relations between the changes in 2 types of peer norms (i.e., descriptive norms and injunctive norms) and 2 alcohol consumption measures: 30-day alcohol prevalence and binge drinking. Increases in 30-day alcohol prevalence and binge drinking were associated with only descriptive norms. The effects of both types of peer norms intensified over time, and the effects of descriptive norms varied according to gender and ethnicity. Specifically, the influence of descriptive norms was greater on boys than on girls and on Caucasians than on African Americans. Communication interventions that target adolescents in the context of alcohol consumption should consider the temporal variability of peer normative influence and how it varies by gender and ethnicity.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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