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29-10-2015 | Original Paper | Uitgave 4/2016

Journal of Child and Family Studies 4/2016

Gender Differences: Emotional Distress as an Indirect Effect Between Family Cohesion and Adolescent Alcohol Use

Journal of Child and Family Studies > Uitgave 4/2016
Kristy L. Soloski, M. Blake Berryhill


Early alcohol abuse is related to negative outcomes that can persist into adulthood. Family cohesion is often associated with the development of emotional distress and alcohol use, while emotional distress is suggested as the most problematic motivation for alcohol use. Using the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health), this study explored the relationship between family cohesion, emotional distress, and adolescent alcohol use for N = 6,504 adolescents. Results indicated emotional distress as indirectly related to adolescent alcohol use through family cohesion, supporting family systems theory in considering the development of alcohol use in adolescence. A multiple sample analysis indicated gender differences in the model, such that family cohesion was more strongly related to female adolescents’ reported emotional distress, while emotional distress was more strongly related to males’ reported problems related to alcohol use. These findings support the need to consider not only how an adolescent’s emotional state is related to their problematic behavior, but also how that could be representative of the parent–child relationship, and an indicator of the health of the family system.

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