Brief report of a test of differential alcohol risk using sibling attributions of paternal alcoholism.

Journal Article (Journal Article)


Parental alcoholism is generally found to be a strong predictor of alcohol misuse. Although the majority of siblings agree on the presence of parental alcohol issues, there is a significant minority who do not.


The current study analyzed sibling data from the 1979 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth using multilevel modeling, which accounts for the nested structure of the data. These analyses permitted a test of whether (a) identifying one's father as an alcoholic predicted greater risk of alcohol problems, (b) being from a family whose siblings did not all agree on the presence of paternal alcoholism increased the likelihood of alcohol problems, and (c) risk of alcohol misuse significantly differed among individuals from families in which there was familial disagreement about paternal alcoholism.


Results show that individuals who identified their father as an alcoholic were themselves more likely to have alcohol issues as compared with individuals both within and between families who did not identify their father as an alcoholic. Risk was similar for individuals in families in which there was disagreement about paternal alcoholism compared with individuals from families in which everyone agreed on the presence of paternal alcoholism. Moreover, there was not a significant interaction between paternal alcoholism attributions and familial disagreement.


Findings indicate that in the case of child reports of paternal alcoholism, the increased risk of alcohol problems holds true regardless of the accuracy of an individual's assessment. These results may be not only because of the impact of paternal alcoholism on a person's alcohol misuse but also because of a person's alcohol problems potentially influencing his or her perceptions of familial alcohol-related behaviors.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Boynton, MH; Arkes, J; Hoyle, RH

Published Date

  • November 2011

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 72 / 6

Start / End Page

  • 1037 - 1040

PubMed ID

  • 22051218

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC3211957

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1938-4114

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1937-1888

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.15288/jsad.2011.72.1037


  • eng