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Keywords:

  • Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children;
  • Alcohol;
  • Level of Response;
  • Structural Equation Models;
  • Adolescents

Background:  The low level of response (LR) to alcohol is one of several genetically influenced characteristics that increase the risk for heavy drinking and alcohol problems. Efforts to understand how LR operates through additional life influences have been carried out primarily in modest-sized U.S.-based samples with limited statistical power, raising questions about generalizability and about the importance of components with smaller effects. This study evaluates a full LR-based model of risk in a large sample of adolescents from the United Kingdom.

Methods:  Cross-sectional structural equation models were used for the approximate first half of the age 17 subjects assessed by the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children, generating data on 1,905 adolescents (mean age 17.8 years, 44.2% boys). LR was measured with the Self-Rating of the Effects of Alcohol Questionnaire, outcomes were based on drinking quantities and problems, and standardized questionnaires were used to evaluate peer substance use, alcohol expectancies, and using alcohol to cope with stress.

Results:  In this young and large U.K. sample, a low LR related to more adverse alcohol outcomes both directly and through partial mediation by all 3 additional key variables (peer substance use, expectancies, and coping). The models were similar in boys and girls.

Conclusions:  These results confirm key elements of the hypothesized LR-based model in a large U.K. sample, supporting some generalizability beyond U.S. groups. They also indicate that with enough statistical power, multiple elements contribute to how LR relates to alcohol outcomes and reinforce the applicability of the model to both genders.