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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

BU Finds Extended Family Members Help Curb Youth Drinking

Mentoring relationships with extended family members can positively influence drinking among Mexican youths, a study led by a Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) researcher finds.

The study in the journal Health Education Research explores extended family influences on alcohol use among Mexican youths, and whether extended family members can be considered natural mentors. A research team led by Dr. Lee Strunin, professor of community health sciences at BUSPH, conducted interviews with 117 first-year university students in Mexico City. The interviews revealed six drinking groups: excessive, heavy, regular, occasional, abstainers, and nondrinkers.

Most youths reported close relationships with extended family members, such as uncles, aunts, and grandparents, who counseled them about alcohol use and acted as representatives of familial values about appropriate alcohol use. These extended family members discouraged misuse of alcohol by providing advice about drinking, warning about misuse, and “role modeling appropriate use,” the study found.

“Our study indicates that Mexican extended family members are naturally occurring mentors who can positively impact youths’ drinking and play a role in alcohol prevention and intervention efforts,” Dr. Stunin said.

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