Parent–child conversations associated with alcohol-related risk behaviours in young people (13–17 years) in the UK: a cross-sectional study

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Objective To investigate different types of parent-child conversations associated with young people's (13-17 years) alcohol-related risk behaviours. Design Secondary analysis of the 2016 Drinkaware Monitor Survey. This survey employed a cross-sectional design and collected data using self-completion questionnaires. Setting UK-wide. Participants 561 parent-child pairs were included in the analysis. The nationally representative quota sample was weighted by reference to the UK population. Methodology Data were analysed using purposeful selection modelling (adjusted OR (AOR), 95% CIs). Risk behaviours 'Whether have ever drank' and 'whether vomited as a result of alcohol'. Results 50% (277/553) of young people reported drinking a whole alcoholic drink, and 22% (60/277) of these experienced vomiting as a result. After adjusting for age and gender, the likelihood of ever having drank alcohol was significantly increased among the following young people: those whose parents believed they knew a little about how much they drink (AOR 1.80, 95% CI 1.04 to 3.13) or that some/most/all friends drink (AOR 3.82, 95% CI 2.40 to 6.08); those given gentle reminders about taking care when drinking alcohol (AOR 1.82, 95% CI 1.15 to 2.88), practical advice (AOR 2.09, 95% CI 1.20 to 3.64) or designated time, led by the parent, to instil care around alcohol through a formal sit-down (AOR 1.79, 95% CI 1.07 to 2.99). The likelihood was reduced for parents aged 40-49 years (AOR 0.52, 95% CI 0.31 to 0.89) and conversations providing information (AOR 0.53, 95% CI 0.29 to 0.98). Vomiting was significantly associated with some/most/all friends drinking alcohol (AOR 3.65, 95% CI 1.08 to 12.30), parent's beliefs about child's frequency of drinking alcohol (AOR 1.26, 95% CI 1.02 to 1.54), parental harmful/dependency drinking (AOR 3.75, 95% CI 1.13 to 12.50) and having a formal sit-down conversation (AOR 2.15, 95% CI 0.99 to 4.66). Conclusions We found evidence of mostly negative associations between young people's risk behaviours and different types of parent-child conversations. Conversations providing information were linked to a reduced tendency to have ever drunk alcohol. All other types of conversations were negatively associated with risk behaviours. Psychological reactance and conversation quality possibly explain these findings.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere033171
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 17 Jun 2020

Bibliographical note

This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited, appropriate credit is given, any changes made indicated, and the use is non-commercial. See:


  • community child health
  • non-accidental injury
  • public health


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