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Comparison Across Two Generations of Prospective Models of How the Low Level of Response to Alcohol Affects Alcohol Outcomes

Marc A. Schuckit, Tom L. Smith, Jelger Kalmijn, Ryan S. Trim, Erin Cesario, Gretchen Saunders, Courtney Sanchez, Nicole Campbell

Objective: This article presents the first direct comparison of level of response (LR)–based prospective models in two generations of the same families. To accomplish this, we describe results from the first prospective evaluation of potential mediators of how an earlier low LR to alcohol relates to adverse alcohol outcomes in offspring from the San Diego Prospective Study (SDPS). Method: To compare with data from probands in the SDPS, new data were gathered from 86 drinking offspring (age 20 years) during the 25-year follow-up of these families. Consistent with the usual effect of a low LR, outcomes 5 years later for both generations focused on drinking quantities as well as alcohol problems during the follow-up. A structural equation model (SEM) was used to analyze the relationships among variables, and the models in proband and offspring generations were compared using direct observations of the model results and through invariance procedures. Results: In these drinking offspring, LR correlated with 5-year outcomes (r = .48, p < .001) and the SEM R² was .48, with good fit statistics. As predicted, the LR relationship to alcohol-related outcomes was both direct and partially mediated by heavier peer drinking, positive alcohol expectancies, and using alcohol to cope with stress. These results were similar to a previously published prospective model in SDPS probands, although path coefficients were generally higher in the younger group. Conclusions: The LR-based model of heavier drinking operated similarly across generations, with some modest differences. These results indicate that the model may be meaningful in both younger and middle-age groups. (J. Stud. Alcohol Drugs, 73, 195–204, 2012)