The Disparities in Alcohol Problems research component Investigates how race/ethnicity and socioeconomic disadvantage (SED) are related to current and lifespan patterns of alcohol use and problems. A considerable body of work has already uncovered strong associations between both race/ethnicity and SED and drinking patterns and problems. However, limited research has focused on the cumulative effects of disadvantage experienced across multiple domains and across time, even though Individuals exposed to multiple forms of disadvantage or enduring disadvantage may show exponentially worse outcomes than individuals experiencing a single form of disadvantage. Similarly, very little work has considered how race/ethnicity and SED may relate to lifespan drinking patterns and problems, despite emerging evidence for the long-lasting health impacts of disadvantage. This component thus addresses these gaps in knowledge with a special focus on how a severe economic recession may exacerbate drinking problems in already disadvantaged groups. Our data source is the 2009/10 National Alcohol Survey (NAS), which provides valuable new data on exposure to recession-related economic hardships;indicators of childhood, adult, and chronic SED;fine-grained measures of alcohol outcomes;and oversamples of Blacks and Hispanics Specific aims are to:
Aim 1) Examine the unique and cumulative effects of race/ethnicity and SED on heavy drinking and alcohol problems, including heavy drinking over the lifespan.
This aim will involve risk curve analyses and latent class analysis to examine trajectories of heavy drinking from one's teens to the present.
Aim 2) Investigate whether the effects of race/ethnicity and SED on heavy drinking and alcohol problems are exacerbated during an economic recession, due to increased exposure and vulnerability to severe hardship. Analyses will involve propensity score matching, and NAS-series trend analyses to assess changes in the magnitude of alcohol-problem disparities.
Aim 3) Test a stress process model of how race/ethnicity, SED, and severe recession-related hardship are associated with heavy drinking and alcohol problems, and examine protective factors that may buffer the adverse effects of disadvantage. Study findings will identify high-risk groups and help to inform prevention efforts with potential to reduce alcohol-related disparities.

Public Health Relevance

This study advances understanding of disparities in alcohol problems by examining the cumulative effects of race/ethnicity and socioeconomic disadvantage on drinking problems over the lifespan, and how drinking problems in disadvantaged groups may be exacerbated during an economic recession. Findings will help to inform efforts to reduce alcohol-related disparities by identifying particularly acute forms of disadvantage, protective factors that mitigate their impact, and high-priority populations during an economic recession.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)
Specialized Center (P50)
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