Get access

Framing Ethnic Variations in Alcohol Outcomes from Biological Pathways to Neighborhood Context


  • The subject of this mini-review was presented at the scientific meeting of the Research Society on Alcoholism, June 23–27, 2012 (San Francisco, CA). Organizers and chairs of the symposium were Karen Chartier and Denise Scott. Introducer was Karen Chartier. Speakers were Jonathan Covault, Tamara Wall, Britain Mills, and Katherine Karriker-Jaffe. Discussant was Judith Arroyo.



Health disparities research seeks to eliminate disproportionate negative health outcomes experienced in some racial/ethnic minority groups. This brief review presents findings on factors associated with drinking and alcohol-related problems in racial/ethnic groups.


Those discussed are as follows: (i) biological pathways to alcohol problems, (ii) gene × stress interactions, (iii) neighborhood disadvantage, stress, and access to alcohol, and (iv) drinking cultures and contexts.


These factors and their interrelationships are complex, requiring a multilevel perspective.


The use of interdisciplinary teams and an epigenetic focus are suggested to move the research forward. The application of multilevel research to policy, prevention, and intervention programs may help prioritize combinations of the most promising intervention targets.