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Educational Achievement and Early School Behavior as Predictors of Alcohol-Use Disorders: 35-Year Follow-Up of the Woodlawn Study

Rosa M. Crum, Hee-Soon Juon, Kerry M. Green, Judith Robertson, Kate Fothergill, Margaret Ensminger

Objective: Using prospectively gathered data across a 35- year follow-up interval, we assessed the association of educational achievement and school behaviors with risk for the development of an alcohol-use disorder in adulthood. Method: The baseline population consisted of 1,242 first-grade students in 1966-1967 residing in the Woodlawn community of Chicago, Illinois. Follow-up interviews were completed for adolescents and their mothers (1975-1976), during young adulthood (1992-1993), and midlife (2002-2003). A total of 1,052 individuals completed the young adult and/or midlife interviews and provided information to assess the presence of a lifetime alcohol-use disorder. Logistic regression with multiple imputation to account for missing information was used to assess the relationships between earlyeducational and school-behavior characteristics with onset of a DSM-III- R/DSM-IV alcohol-use disorder (defined using the Composite International Diagnostic Interview). Results: Relatively few of the hypothesized educational predictors were associated with risk for alcohol-use disorders in adulthood. The measures found to be predictive of a subsequent alcohol-use disorder included the following: (1) math achievement among first-grade boys, (2) mothers’ report of skipping school among adolescent males, (3) self-report of skipping school among adolescent girls, and (4) school dropout. Early shyness among first-grade boys was protective for later alcohol-use disorders. Conclusions: The current report supplies data on the association of educational characteristics and school behaviors with the development of an alcohol-use disorder in a population-based sample with an extended interval of follow- up. Gender-specific differences are discussed. (J. Stud. Alcohol 67: 75-85, 2006)