A latent profile analysis of drinking patterns among nonstudent emerging adults

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Research indicates that nonstudent emerging adults, as compared to their college-attending peers, are at higher risk for experiencing alcohol-related problems, including alcohol use disorders. The present study sought to extend the limited research on nonstudent drinking by (1) identifying sub-groups of nonstudent drinkers based on their drinking patterns and (2) determining the extent to which social-cognitive between-person factors related to drinking (i.e., social expectancies, perceived drinking norms, social drinking motivations) distinguish these sub-groups. Participants were 195 (65.1% men) nonstudent emerging adult heavy episodic drinkers recruited from the community. Mean age was 21.88 (SD = 2.08) years and 45.4% were unemployed. Latent profile analysis identified two classes based on drinking across 30 days. The "moderate drinkers" group (n = 143; 73.3%) reported consuming 10-11 drinks weekly and drinking two to three times per week, on average. The "heavy drinkers" class (n = 52; 26.7%) reported consuming 42-43 drinks weekly and drinking six to seven days per week. Both groups exhibited a cyclic pattern of drinking whereby weekday drinking was lower, with increases on the weekend; the heavy drinkers class had stronger weekend increases starting earlier. Heavy drinkers reported greater volume, frequency, and problematic drinking behaviors, as compared to the moderate drinkers. The heavy drinkers class also endorsed stronger social motives and perceived their peers to drink more. The present study offered unique insights into nonstudent emerging adult drinking patterns by identifying sub-populations of drinkers based on their past 30-day use. Knowledge gained from this study could aide in tailoring existing alcohol interventions to nonstudents to reduce alcohol-related harms.




Lau-Barraco, C., Braitman, A. L., Stamates, A. L., & Linden-Carmichael, A. N. (2016). A latent profile analysis of drinking patterns among nonstudent emerging adults. Addictive Behaviors, 62, 14–19. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.addbeh.2016.06.001

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