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01.12.2015 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2015 Open Access

BMC Public Health 1/2015

Does the social context of early alcohol use affect risky drinking in adolescents? Prospective cohort study

BMC Public Health > Ausgabe 1/2015
Louisa Degenhardt, Helena Romaniuk, Carolyn Coffey, Wayne D. Hall, Wendy Swift, John B. Carlin, Christina O’Loughlin, George C. Patton
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Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (doi:10.​1186/​s12889-015-2443-5) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Authors’ contributions

LD, GP, WS and CO’L conceived of the study. CC and HR conducted the analyses. LD led the writing of the manuscript. All authors had full access to the data presented in this study. All authors commented on the analytic plan, interpretation, and contributed to the editing and final approval of the manuscript.



There are limited longitudinal data on the associations between different social contexts of alcohol use and risky adolescent drinking.


Australian prospective longitudinal cohort of 1943 adolescents with 6 assessment waves at ages 14–17 years. Drinkers were asked where and how frequently they drank. Contexts were: at home with family, at home alone, at a party with friends, in a park/car, or at a bar/nightclub. The outcomes were prevalence and incidence of risky drinking (≥5 standard drinks (10g alcohol) on a day, past week) and very risky drinking (>20 standard drinks for males and >11 for females) in early (waves 1–2) and late (waves 3–6) adolescence.


Forty-four percent (95 % CI: 41-46 %) reported past-week risky drinking on at least one wave during adolescence (waves 1–6). Drinking at a party was the most common repeated drinking context in early adolescence (28 %, 95 % CI 26-30 %); 15 % reported drinking repeatedly (3+ times) with their family in early adolescence (95 % CI: 14-17 %). For all contexts (including drinking with family), drinking 3+ times in a given context was associated with increased the risk of risky drinking in later adolescence. These effects remained apparent after adjustment for potential confounders (e.g. for drinking with family, adjusted RR 1.9; 95 % CI: 1.5-2.4). Similar patterns were observed for very risky drinking.


Our results suggest that consumption with family does not protect against risky drinking. Furthermore, parents who wish to minimise high risk drinking by their adolescent children might also limit their children’s opportunities to consume alcohol in unsupervised settings.
Additional file 1: Table S1. Estimates of the prevalence of very risky drinking in the week prior to survey by sex, wave and phase. Table S2. Estimates of incident very risky drinking in late adolescence by wave and sex. Table S3. Estimates of the prevalence of repeated (3+ times) drinking in each context in early adolescence by sex. Table S4. Association between context of drinking in early adolescence and incident very risky drinking in later adolescence. Table S5. Association between joint context of repeated drinking in early adolescence and incident very risky drinking in later adolescence. (DOCX 42 kb)
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