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Adolescent extracurricular activity and alcohol use in regional and metropolitan locations: The mediational role of peers

Vernon, L. and Barber, B.L. (2011) Adolescent extracurricular activity and alcohol use in regional and metropolitan locations: The mediational role of peers. In: 17th Biennial Conference of the Australasian Human Development Association (AHDA), 4-6 July 2011, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand.

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Abstract

In Australia, alcohol and sport are intimately linked. Alcohol is used to celebrate a win, to commiserate a loss and to reinforce the camaraderie and mateship amongst teams (Australian Drug Foundation, 2004, pp. 1). Almost two thirds of Australian youth are involved in organised sports (ABS, 2006). Despite the sporting environment providing numerous benefits, there is a strong link between sport and alcohol in Australian culture (Duff, Scealy, & Rowland, 2005). Regional sporting clubs in Australia play an integral role in the formation of social capital (Atherley, 2006). However, there is concern that the regional club environment provides a setting for adolescent drinking (Duff et al., 2005). This study aimed to investigate the association between Australian adolescents’ extracurricular activity participation and levels of alcohol use, and whether this relation was moderated by gender and location. Secondly, if the sport-alcohol association was found to be significant, to explore the mediational role of peers’ alcohol use between adolescents’ sport participation and their alcohol use. A sample of 1,158 year nine and 658 year eleven students from metropolitan and regional schools across Western Australia responded to a self-report survey which examined their sporting and non-sporting activities, their alcohol consumption, as well as perceived peer alcohol use. Activity participation profiles included sports-only, activities-only, sports-plus-activities and non-participation. A 4 (portfolio) x 2 (gender) x 2 (location) ANCOVA, indicated that location significantly moderated the link between participation profile and drinking, controlling for age effects, F(3,1767)=3.46, p < .05. Regional students participating in sports-only (M=2.23, SD=1.54) or sports-plus-activities (M=2.00, SD=1.26) reported significantly higher levels of drinking compared to students in activities-only (M=1.67, SD=1.00) or non-participants (M=1.68, SD=1.16), whereas metropolitan students, participating in sports-only (M=2.03, SD=1.39), reported significantly higher levels of alcohol use than all other profiles of activities. Peers’ level of alcohol use significantly mediated the positive relation between sport participation and adolescent alcohol use for regional but not for metropolitan adolescents. Our results suggest that peers may play a mediational role to maintain the drinking culture associated with participating in sport among regional students or help to reduce drinking rates among metropolitan students who combine sport with non-sporting activities. The regional environment stood out as a setting for high levels of alcohol use for students if they participated in sport. Examination of locality effects and the underlying mechanism of peer effects on adolescent alcohol use allow policymakers to identify ways to target intervention/prevention programs to reduce adolescent drinking.

Publication Type: Conference Item
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Psychology
Publisher: Australasian Human Development Association
Copyright: The Authors
Conference Website: http://www.otago.ac.nz/ahda2011/
Notes: Poster
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/17573
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