Adolescent alcohol use: determining priorities for parent interventions

November 2014

NDRI: Dr Nyanda McBride

Other investigators: 

Robyn Johnson (Principal Investigator), Therese Shaw (Chief Investigator) and Dr Shelley Beatty, Edith Cowan University
Conor Gilligan, Newcastle University
Gary Kirby, Drug and Alcohol Office of Western Australia

Project description: 

Excessive alcohol consumption by adolescents in Western Australia has become increasingly common, placing them at preventable risk of injury, violence, road trauma, depression and risky sexual behaviours in the short term and increased risks of alcohol-related problems in adulthood.  Reducing harm from alcohol is a national and state priority.  Parents have a key role in addressing this priority in young people.

Parents can adopt effective strategies such as alcohol-related communication; rule setting; monitoring; and non-supply of alcohol to delay and reduce alcohol use by young people. However, not enough is known about WA parents’ use of these recommended strategies with their adolescent children, nor their attitudes, norm perceptions, or self-efficacy around influencing their children’s alcohol use.

To develop effective, relevant parent interventions, it is vital to understand parents’ current practices, and enablers and barriers to their use of recommended strategies. This research will determine the factors that influence parents’ actions and impact on their children’s alcohol consumption. The findings will inform the development of effective parent interventions that reduce alcohol consumption amongst adolescents.

A sequential mixed methods approach will be used, obtaining information from parents and their adolescents aged 12-17 years. Parents of adolescents of varying ages will be surveyed, as parental practices, and support needs change as their children age. Six hundred parents and their children at six secondary schools in Western Australia will be recruited to complete an online survey on their use of recommended strategies as well as their attitudes, behaviours, perceived norms and support requirements related to their adolescent’s alcohol use. Their children will complete an online survey of their alcohol use behaviours, sources of alcohol, and report on their parents’ use of recommended strategies. Focus groups will be conducted with 50-60 parents, to gain a deeper understanding of the contextual, temporal and attitudinal factors identified in the survey findings as influencing parental behaviours, beliefs and self-efficacy. Additionally, parental perceptions of appropriate methods of intervention delivery will be investigated.

This study represents the initial stages of the intervention development process. The results from the quantitative and qualitative components will be synthesised into stakeholder recommendations for the content and delivery of parent interventions and a framework for the development of a multi-component intervention, tailored to WA parents’ needs. This intervention will have significant potential to reduce alcohol-related harms to young people.

For more about this project: Go to NDRI's website.