The Mediating Role of Impulsivity Between Psychological Distress and Alcohol Misuse Among College Students at a Historically Black University

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Objective: Alcohol misuse is prevalent and clinically significant among college students. Psychological distress is one factor that has been found to predict alcohol misuse in this population. However, relatively few investigations examined the association of psychological distress to alcohol misuse or its underlying mechanisms among students attending historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs). The present study examined whether impulsivity explains the relation between psychological distress and alcohol misuse in this population using structural equation modeling. Methods: Participants were 287 undergraduate students attending an HBCU in the southern United States (Mage = 22.5, 66.3% female, 93.7% Black). Results: Impulsivity was found to significantly mediate the association of psychological distress to alcohol misuse, such that higher levels of psychological distress were associated with greater impulsivity which, in turn, was related to more alcohol misuse. Further analyses indicated that attentional impulsivity significantly mediated the association of psychological distress to alcohol misuse. Conclusions: These findings suggest the utility of targeting impulsivity in interventions aimed at preventing and reducing alcohol misuse among college students attending HBCUs who experience psychological distress.

Publication Title, e.g., Journal

Journal of Dual Diagnosis