Predicting Alcohol Use Across Adolescence: Relative Strength of Individual, Family, Peer, and Contextual Risk and Protective Factors

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Abstract

The current study examined developmental changes in the relative influence of risk and protective factors (RPFs) across individual, family, peer, school, and community domains on adolescent alcohol use. Using longitudinal data from two independent samples, multivariate cross-lagged models were used to estimate the unique influence of each RPF on subsequent changes in recent alcohol use between early to late adolescence. The results supported the hypothesis that the influence of Individual Risk would increase during this developmental period. However, less consistent evidence was found concerning developmental changes among the other domains. Whereas the influence arising from Family Protection diminished during adolescence, the influence of Family Risk, School Protection, and Community Protection did not vary. The influence of Peer Risk showed a nonlinear pattern across adolescence, peaking during the middle adolescent years. The results of this study support a developmental approach to adolescent alcohol use and emphasize the need for prevention strategies that account for these developmental changes.

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