Page last updated: February 17, 2015

The role of parental risk perception in intentions to communicate about alcohol

A study examined discrepancies in parents’ and college students’ perceptions of alcohol risk and the role of perceived risk in predicting parents’ intentions to discuss alcohol with their child.

In total, 246 college student–parent dyads (56.1% female students, 77.2% mothers) were recruited from a mid-size university. Participants completed measures of absolute likelihood, comparative likelihood, and severity of alcohol consequences.

In comparison to students, parents perceived the risks of alcohol poisoning, academic impairment, and problems with others to be more likely. In addition, parents rated the majority of alcohol consequences (e.g., passing out, regrettable sexual situation, throwing up) as more severe than students. However, parents tended to be more optimistic than their child about the comparative likelihood of alcohol consequences. After controlling for demographics and past alcohol communication, greater absolute likelihood and less confidence in knowledge of student behaviour predicted greater intentions to discuss alcohol.

The authors conclude that providing parents of college students with information about college drinking norms and the likelihood of alcohol consequences may help prompt alcohol-related communication.

Source: Parents’ and students’ perceptions of college alcohol risk: The role of parental risk perception in intentions to communicate about alcohol. Lucy E. Napper, Elizabeth M. Grimaldi, Joseph W. LaBrie. Addictive Behaviors. Volume 42, March 2015, Pages 114–118..

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