AIMS: To estimate 1) the associations between parent-adolescent relationship, parental knowledge and subsequent adolescent drinking frequency and 2) the influence of alcohol use on parental knowledge.
DESIGN: Path analysis of school based cohort study with annual surveys SETTING: Post primary schools from urban and intermediate/rural areas in Northern Ireland PARTICIPANTS: 4,937 post primary school students aged around 11 years in 2000 followed until around age 16 in 2005.
MEASUREMENTS: Pupil reported measures of: frequency of alcohol use; parental-child relationship quality; sub-dimensions of parental monitoring: parental control, parental solicitation, child disclosure and child secrecy.
FINDINGS: Higher levels of parental control (Ordinal logistic OR 0.86 95% CI 0.78, 0.95) and lower levels of child secrecy (OR 0.83 95% CI 0.75 0.92) were associated with less frequent alcohol use subsequently. Parental solicitation and parent-child relationship quality were not associated with drinking frequency. Weekly alcohol drinking was associated with higher subsequent secrecy (Beta -0.42 95% CI -0.53, -0.32) and lower parental control (Beta -0.15 95% CI -0.26, -0.04). Secrecy was more strongly predictive of alcohol use at younger compared with older ages (P=0.02), and alcohol use was less strongly associated with parental control among families with poorer relationships (P=0.04).
CONCLUSIONS: Adolescent alcohol use appears to increase as parental control decreases and child secrecy increases. Greater parental control is associated with less frequent adolescent drinking subsequently, while parent-child attachment and parental solicitation have little influence on alcohol use.