Children of alcoholics (COAs) show a consistent risk for greater substance use but also for greater negative life events. These more negative life stressors in part account for COAs'risk for greater substance use perhaps because of the strain they exert on coping resources. Although previous studies examine the intergenerational transmission of stressful life events in COAs, less is known about the intergenerational transmission of coping processes that may be diminished by these stressful life events but also needed to help COAs overcome this risk. We will pursue this question using cutting-edge methods within the Integrative Data Analysis (IDA) framework, permitting the pooling of independent datasets so we can examine an intergenerational pathway across three points in time: a T1 assessment when parents (G1s) are young adults, a T2 assessment when these G1s are parents and their children (G2s) are in late childhood, and a T3 assessment when the G2s are adolescents. We address three aims: (1) To examine the intergenerational transmission of adaptive and maladaptive coping styles in COAs by testing a mediational pathway in which G1s'alcoholism in young adulthood (T1) affects their later coping (T2) and proximally models for their children's (G2s) coping in late childhood (T2) and adolescence (T3);(2) To examine intergenerational stress exposure by testing the mediational pathway in which G1s'alcoholism in young adulthood (T1) predicts more stressful family environments for them and their children in late childhood (T2) and adolescence (T3), accounting for moderating effects of gender and ethnicity;and (3) To examine whether these stress-coping influences account for intergenerational transmission of risk for alcohol, marijuana and other illicit drug use such that (a) G1s'alcoholism as young adults (T1) predicts their children's stressful family environment and maladaptive coping styles in childhood and adolescence (both T2 and T3) and (b) interactions between stress and coping in part account for COAs'greater substance use in adolescents (T3) depending on adolescent gender, ethnicity, and the form of coping. Findings from this study will have broader implications for understanding how coping styles develop across generations as well as the role that these coping processes may play in predicting negative outcomes in a variety of high-risk family contexts.

Public Health Relevance

This study will investigate the intergenerational transmission of stress, coping, and substance use using advanced quantitative methods through an integrated data analysis. The results of the study will help identify possible targets for preventin that may relate to the perpetuation of substance use problems through generations in families.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
Predoctoral Individual National Research Service Award (F31)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1)
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Etz, Kathleen
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University of North Carolina Chapel Hill
Schools of Arts and Sciences
Chapel Hill
United States
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Burns, Alison R; Hussong, Andrea M; Solis, Jessica M et al. (2017) Examining Cohort Effects in Developmental Trajectories of Substance Use. Int J Behav Dev 41:621-631
Hussong, Andrea M; Burns, Alison R; Solis, Jessica M et al. (2013) Future directions in the developmental science of addictions. J Clin Child Adolesc Psychol 42:863-73