Funding: NIAAA R01 AA020474
The primary objective of this study is thus to describe and explain racial disparities in both heavy drinking and alcohol problems at equivalent levels of consumption. Our conceptual approach recognizes that racial/ethnic groups in the U.S. are differentially exposed to economic, social, and neighborhood disadvantages, and draws upon recent theoretical work suggesting that cumulative exposure to disadvantage may play a significant role in understanding health disparities. Our study also considers alcohol-related factors—such as differences in drink size, drinking contexts, and age at heavy drinking—as potential contributors to disparities in problems at equivalent levels of consumption. Advanced statistical techniques such as structural equation modeling, moderated mediation tests, and propensity score matching will be employed in addressing the following Specific Aims: 1) to describe racial disparities in heavy drinking and alcohol problems (i.e., negative drinking consequences and dependence symptoms); 2) to assess the extent to which disadvantage and alcohol-related factors account for these racial disparities; and 3) to identify protective resources (e.g., social support, drinking norms and networks, religiosity) that mitigate the impact of disadvantage on heavy drinking. By identifying the relative contribution of distinct risk factors to racial disparities, this study will help in prioritizing policymaking and prevention efforts, and will inform interventions seeking to address risk factors and build upon the protective resources of each racial/ethnic group.