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Cross-National Study on Factors That Influence Parents' Knowledge About Their Children's Alcohol Use

NCJ Number
Journal of Drug Education Volume: 43 Issue: 2 Dated: 2013 Pages: 155-172
Jose-Ramon Fernandez-Hermida, Ph.D.; Amador Calafat, M.D.; Elisardo Becona, Ph.D.; Roberto Secades-Villa, Ph.D.; Montse Juan, Ph.D.; Harry Sumnall, Ph.D.
Date Published
18 pages
This study of 1,181 parent-children dyads in 5 European countries (Sweden, Slovenia, the Czech Republic, Spain and Portugal) focused on parents' estimates of their children's consumption of alcoholic beverages.
The study found discrepancies between the children's reported use of substances and their parents' estimates. Overall, 79.1 percent of parents underestimated their children's alcohol use. The percentage of parents who approximately matched their children's reports of alcohol use decreased considerably as the frequency of child-reported alcohol use increased. Regarding tobacco and illegal drugs, only those cases in which the children reported use of the substance assessed are included, and these were compared against parental estimates of alcohol use. Regarding tobacco and illegal drugs, parent estimates did not reveal whether or not there was over-estimation, as the response format was dichotomous (uses/does not use). The children of parents who underestimated their children's alcohol use were more likely to be older males. The children were more likely to have used more alcohol in the last month and to report more drunken episodes in the same period. They were also more likely to perceive greater alcohol use by their friends, to use illegal drugs, and to perceive access to illegal drugs as easier compared to children who used substances less frequently. These findings suggest that children who use substances most often have parents who do not recognize the severity of their children's drug use. This may make it difficult to involve these parents in treatment regimens. Another interesting finding was that under-estimating parents were more likely to include fathers with lower emotional warmth, but not in the mother. Regarding sociodemographic variables, the samples in some countries, such as Spain and the Czech Republic, were more likely to have under-estimating parents, although the effect size was low. 4 tables and 25 references