Perceived Discrimination and Heavy Episodic Drinking Among African-American Youth: Differences by Age and Reason for Discrimination.

Journal of Adolescent Health

PubMedID: 26499858

Madkour AS, Jackson K, Wang H, Miles TT, Mather F, Shankar A. Perceived Discrimination and Heavy Episodic Drinking Among African-American Youth: Differences by Age and Reason for Discrimination. J Adolesc Health. 2015;57(5):530-6.
PURPOSE
The purpose of this study was to examine whether associations between perceived discrimination and heavy episodic drinking (HED) vary by age and by discrimination type (e.g., racial, age, physical appearance) among African-American youth.

METHODS
National data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics Transition to Adulthood Study were analyzed. Youth participated in up to four interviews (2005, 2007, 2009, 2011; n = 657) between ages 18 and 25 years. Respondents reported past-year engagement in HED (four or more drinks for females, five or more drinks for males) and frequency of discriminatory acts experienced (e.g., receiving poor service, being treated with less courtesy). Categorical latent growth curve models, including perceived discrimination types (racial, age, and physical appearance) as a time-varying predictors of HED, were run. Controls for gender, birth cohort, living arrangement in adolescence, familial wealth, parental alcohol use, and college attendance were explored.

RESULTS
The average HED trajectory was curvilinear (increasing followed by flattening), whereas perceived discrimination remained flat with age. In models including controls, odds of HED were significantly higher than average around ages 20-21 years with greater frequency of perceived racial discrimination; associations were not significant at other ages. Discrimination attributed to age or physical appearance was not associated with HED at any age.

CONCLUSIONS
Perceived racial discrimination may be a particularly salient risk factor for HED around the ages of transition to legal access to alcohol among African-American youth. Interventions to reduce discrimination or its impact could be targeted before this transition to ameliorate the negative outcomes associated with HED.