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The Social Predictors of Adolescent Alcohol Misuse: A Test of the Social Development Model

Heather S. Lonczak, Bu Huang, Richard F. Catalano, J. David Hawkins, Karl G. Hill, Robert D. Abbott, Jeanne A.M. Ryan, Rick Kosterman

Objective: This study was conducted to investigate the ability of the social development model (SDM) to predict alcohol misuse at age 16 and to investigate the ability of the SDM to mediate the effects of alcohol use at age 14 on alcohol misuse at age 16. Method: The sample of 807 (411 males) is from the longitudinal panel of the Seattle Social Development Project which, in 1985, surveyed all consenting fifth-grade students from 18 elementary schools serving high-crime neighborhoods in Seattle, Washington. Alcohol use was measured at age 14, predictors of alcohol misuse were measured at age 15 and alcohol misuse was measured at age 16. Structural equation modeling was used to examine the fit of the model to the data. Results: All factor loadings were highly significant and the measurement model achieved a good fit with the data (Comparative Fit Index [CFI] = 0.93). A second- order structural model fit the data well (CFI = 0.91) and also explained 45% of the variance in alcohol misuse at age 16. The SDM partially and significantly mediated the direct effect of age-14 alcohol use on age-16 alcohol misuse. Conclusions: The risk and protective processes specified by the SDM serve as potential targets for the prevention or reduction of adolescent alcohol misuse. (J. Stud. Alcohol 62: 179- 189, 2001)