Acculturation and Alcohol Use Among Asian Americans: A Meta-Analytic Review

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Abstract

Acculturation has been considered a key sociocultural factor that helps explain Asian American’s mental health outcomes, including alcohol use. Yet, findings on the degree to which acculturation is directly linked to alcohol use have been mixed. The present meta-analysis reviewed original studies published since 1979, and tested the association between acculturation and alcohol use outcomes among Asian Americans across age groups. Analyses also examined the extent to which participant and methodological variables moderated this relation. A systematic literature review yielded 31 published research reports that were eligible for the meta-analysis. Across 39 independent study samples (N = 28,028), analysis with random-effects model estimated a small and statistically significant mean weighted correlation between acculturation and alcohol use (r = .06, p < .05). Acculturation appeared to be more robustly associated with alcohol consumption and intensity of hazardous alcohol use, but not drinking-related problems. Most studies examined acculturation as a unidimensional construct. Within study samples that conceptualized acculturation as a bidimensional construct, alcohol use was positively associated with acculturation (orientation to the mainstream host culture) but negatively associated with enculturation (orientation to the Asian heritage culture). Statistically significant between-study variability (Q[38] = 876.62, p < .001, I2 = 95.67%) was accounted for by gender, age, and geographical location. Limitations to the scope of this meta-analysis regarding the observational nature of study effect sizes, sample-level analyses, and focus on self-report survey data, as well as future research directions are discussed.

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