Prevention Science

, Volume 20, Issue 6, pp 811–823 | Cite as

Demographic Moderation of the Prediction of Adolescent Alcohol Involvement Trajectories

  • Nisha C. GottfredsonEmail author
  • Blythe E. Rhodes
  • Susan T. Ennett


Several school- and family-based preventive interventions target and effectively reduce adolescent alcohol misuse. However, whether demographic groups achieve equal success with these interventions is unclear. In particular, most interventions target younger adolescents, and program effectiveness tends to be measured with majority White samples; subgroup analyses are rarely reported. We analyze longitudinal data from a sample of N = 6189 adolescents (40% Black, 60% White; 50% female) in 6th through 12th grade to quantify the degree to which age, race, and gender moderate the associations between seven well-known risk and protective factors (RPFs) that serve as common intervention targets. The RPFs that we study are drawn from social learning theory, problem behavior theory, and social control theory, including individual factors (positive alcohol expectancies and deviant behavior), family context (perceived parental involvement, perceived parent alcohol use, and access to alcohol), and peer context (descriptive and injunctive norms). Multilevel growth models allow us to conduct the demographic subgroup moderation analysis. Results suggest that these well-studied RPFs explain alcohol involvement to varying degrees, but they explain substantially more variation in alcohol involvement by White adolescents compared with Black adolescents. We find differential patterns of significance and of leading predictors of alcohol involvement as a function of age, race, and gender and the interactions thereof. These results indicate that the prevention field needs to better understand the RPFs affecting minority and high school youth in order to provide a stronger basis for alcohol prevention efforts.


Adolescent Alcohol Trajectories Subgroups Tailored interventions 



Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse of the National Institutes of Health through grant funding awarded to Drs. Ennett (R01 DA013459) and Gottfredson (K01 DA035153).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

The study was approved by the UNC Institutional Review Board.

Informed Consent

All participants in this study consented to participate after parents assented.


The content of this manuscript is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not represent the official views of the NIH.

Supplementary material

11121_2018_946_MOESM1_ESM.docx (94 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 94 kb)


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Copyright information

© Society for Prevention Research 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Gillings School of Global Public HealthUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA

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