Cutler Institute for Health and Social Policy

Population Health and Health Policy, Maine Rural Health Research Center

Adolescent Alcohol Use: Do Risk and Protective Factors Explain Rural-Urban Differences?

Abstract: 

Adolescent alcohol use is a significant public health problem among U.S. adolescents. Past studies, including our own work, have found that rural adolescents were more likely to use alcohol than urban adolescents. Research suggests that protective factors, such as peer and parental disapproval, may be weaker among youth living in rural areas. This study examines the factors associated with adolescent alcohol use, whether they differ between rural and urban populations, and the extent to which these differences account for rural-urban variations in adolescent alcohol use. This knowledge is crucial to the development of rural-specific prevention strategies, targeted research on rural adolescent alcohol use, and long-term policy interventions. Our findings confirm higher rates of binge drinking and driving under the influence among rural youth than among urban youth. Rural residence is associated with increased odds of binge drinking (OR 1.16, p< .05) and driving under the influence (OR 1.42, p< .001) even when income and protective factors are taken into account. Our findings suggest that adolescents who start drinking at an earlier age are more likely to engage in problem drinking behavior as they get older, leading to a need for interventions that target pre-teens and younger adolescents. Moreover, since we found urban-rural differences in specific protective factors, these may be the most promising for evidence-based, rural-specific prevention strategies targeting parents, schools, and churches. These are the factors that convey and reinforce consistent messages discouraging adolescent alcohol use from an early age.

Suggested Citation:

Gale JA, Lenardson JD, Lambert D, Hartley, D.  Adolescent Alcohol Use: Do Risk and Protective Factors Explain Rural-Urban Differences. (Working Paper #48).  Portland, ME: University of Southern Maine, Muskie School of Public Service, Maine Rural Health Research Center; March 2012.

Publish Date: 
March 1, 2012
URL: 
http://muskie.usm.maine.edu/Publications/WP48_Adolescent-Alcohol-Use-Rural-Urban.pdf

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Dr. Ziller to speak on Rural Implementation and Impact of Medicaid Expansions

The impact of the ACA Medicaid expansion on health care coverage and access in rural areas is largely unknown and will depend on the different state policy contexts in which the expansions are implemented and on existing system capacity. Understanding how many rural residents are likely to become newly eligible for Medicaid under the ACA, as well as their characteristics and health status, will provide important information to aid policymakers in structuring outreach and enrollment strategies and ensuring that the healthcare infrastructure and delivery systems in rural areas can address the needs of these individuals.

On March 18th, Dr. Ziller, Deputy Director of the Maine Rural Health Research Center at the University of Southern Maine, will present via a SHARE webinar, nationally representative information identifying rural-urban differences among low-income non-elderly adults (18 to 65) in the following areas:

  • Medicaid eligibility, pre-ACA
  • Medicaid participation, pre-ACA
  • New Medicaid eligibility in 2014

Dr. Ziller will also analyze the characteristics associated with any rural-urban differences in the above areas. Characteristics to be considered include age, gender, employment, education, income, Census region, health status, current relationship to primary care provider, primary care supply, and FQHC availability.

This webinar is based on Dr. Ziller's research under a State Health Access Reform Evaluation (SHARE) grant to inform federal and state implementation of the ACA Medicaid expansion by estimating the size and characteristics of the rural population likely to be newly eligible.
Learn More

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