Date of Award

2020

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Psychology

Specialization

Clinical Psychology

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Nichea Spillane

Abstract

Despite vast group heterogeneity among multiracial individuals, their rates of heavy alcohol use (binge drinking five or more times in a month) tend to be disproportionately high when compared to monoracial individuals. Multiracial individuals also report high rates of perceived racial discrimination compared to monoracial individuals, which is of concern as perceived racial discrimination has a robust relationship with heavy alcohol use. Further, research has identified racial identity affiliation as a protective factor against heavy alcohol use for some minority groups; however, results have been mixed among multiracial individuals. There is also reason to believe that the relationship between racial identity affiliation and heavy alcohol use may vary by sex. Yet there is a dearth of literature examining the relations between racial discrimination, racial identity affiliation, sex, and heavy alcohol use among multiracial individuals. Therefore, the purpose of the present study is to test the following hypotheses: 1) multiracial people will be more likely to report (a) heavy alcohol use than Asian, White, and Black individuals; (b) higher levels of perceived racial discrimination than White and Asian individuals but no significant differences compared to Black individuals; and (c) lower overall scores on racial identity affiliation than Asian, White, and Black individuals; 2) among multiracial individuals, greater perceived racial discrimination and less racial identity affiliation will be related to significantly greater likelihood of reporting heavy alcohol use; 3) racial identity affiliation will moderate the relationship between perceived racial discrimination and heavy alcohol use in multiracial individuals; and 4) there will be a three-way interactive effect of sex, racial identity affiliation, and perceived racial discrimination on heavy alcohol use. Data for the current study was drawn from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions-III data (NESARC-III), sponsored by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). The NESARC-III data consists of a nationally representative sample of adults (n = 36,309; 56.4% female), including 598 multiracial individuals (2.1%). From 2012–2013, participants were administered the Alcohol Use Disorder and Associated Disabilities Interview Schedule-IV, an interview-based assessment of alcohol use and potentially related variables. Logistic regression analysis, controlling for sex, revealed that multiracial individuals were significantly more likely to report heavy alcohol use than White (p = .006, OR = 1.69) and Asian (p < .001, OR = 2.94) individuals, but were not significantly different from Black individuals (p = .950, OR = 0.99). Two linear regression analyses, controlling for sex, compared perceived racial discrimination and racial identity affiliation across racial groups and found multiracial individuals reported significantly greater perceived racial discrimination than White (b = 1.37, p < .001) and Asian individuals (b = 0.38, p = .002), but less than Black individuals (b = -0.31, p = .004). Further, multiracial individuals reported less affiliation with their racial identity than Black (b = -5.29, p < .001) and Asian individuals (b = -3.63, p < .001), but were not significantly different than White individuals. Next, within the multiracial sample, a logistic regression analysis examined whether perceived racial discrimination and racial identity affiliation were related to heavy alcohol use while controlling for sex. Greater discrimination was the only factor significantly related to heavy alcohol use (p = .034, OR = 1.13). We next examined the interaction of discrimination by racial identity affiliation and found it was not significantly related to heavy alcohol use in multiracial individuals (b = -0.02, p = .127); nor was the three-way interaction of discrimination by identity affiliation by sex significant (b = 0.01, p = .580). This study suggests a complex picture such that multiracial individuals experience higher levels of perceived racial discrimination and heavy alcohol use but racial identity affiliation that is relatively low when compared to monoracial members of marginalized groups. Yet, perceived racial discrimination was the only variable significantly related to heavy alcohol use and racial identity affiliation; their interactions were not significant. These findings suggest that there are other unique factors associated with heavy alcohol use among multiracial individuals. Therefore, constructs related to multiracial heavy alcohol use warrant further exploration in order to develop interventions specifically aimed at reducing alcohol use among this high-risk population.

Available for download on Tuesday, April 20, 2021

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