Developmental Pathways to Substance Use across European American and Asian American Youth
Luk, Jeremy Wing-Hei
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As one of the fastest growing ethnic minority groups in the United States, alcohol and drug use in Asian Americans has increasingly been recognized as a public health problem. Emerging research has documented biological, psychosocial, and cultural factors that are associated with alcohol use in Asian American youth adults (Hendershot et al., 2005). However, existing studies have neither adopted a developmental perspective to study the emergence of alcohol use and problems in Asian American during late adolescence, nor have they tested whether prior findings can be generalized to predict drug use. Concurrently, research has suggested that effects of parenting are often different across Asian and European American youth. Numerous studies, for example, have suggested that authoritarian parenting style has beneficial effects in Asian American youth, but detrimental effects in European American youth on outcomes such as academic performance and socio-emotional competence. Subsequent research has indicated that parental constructs such as warmth and psychological control may also have differential effects across Asian and European American youth (e.g., Chao & Tseng, 2002). Despite these findings, no published study has documented differential effects of parenting on alcohol and drug use across Asian and European American youth. The overarching goal of this study was to examine moderation effects by ethnicity on the association between parenting and alcohol and drug use outcomes in a longitudinal sample of Asian and European American youth. Data were drawn from 97 Asian American and 255 European American youth who participated in the Developmental Pathway Project. The current study first tested measurement invariance of three parenting constructs: parental warmth, parental psychological control, and parental knowledge. Configural invariance was found for mother and father parental warmth and knowledge. However, the item “always tries to change how I feel or think about things” was not a significant indicator for the mother psychological control latent factor and was excluded from subsequent analyses. Metric invariance was found for mother and father parenting, whereas scalar invariance was established for father but not mother parenting. Other types of measurement invariance were also evaluated and there was little evidence of systematic measurement non-invariance of parenting constructs. Examination of direct effects revealed that mother psychological control was a risk factor for alcohol use and problems in grade 9 among both European Americans and Asian Americans. Father knowledge also had a significant main, protective effect on three substance use outcomes, including alcohol problems in grade 9, alcohol problems in grade 12, and alcohol dependence in grade 12, for the entire sample. Path analyses indicated a total of six moderated mediation effects. Specifically, for European Americans only, mother knowledge at baseline predicted fewer alcohol problems in grades 9 and 12 via fewer externalizing problems in grade 8. Similarly, for European Americans only, father warmth at baseline predicted alcohol problems in grade 9, alcohol problems, alcohol dependence, and marijuana dependence at grade 12 via better academic achievement. Overall, the direct effects of parenting on substance use outcomes were not moderated by ethnicity, but several indirect effects were. The pattern of associations also differed by dimension of parenting and the gender of the parent. The current study is the first to illustrate moderated mediation effects of parenting on substance use outcomes across European Americans and Asian Americans with the use of a longitudinal sample. Future research should extend this work by testing how cultural factors might moderate these associations among a larger and more diverse Asian American sample.
- Psychology