Funding: NIAAA R21 AA015397
While prior epidemiological research has revealed important racial/ethnic patterns in drinking and alcohol problems, there is limited understanding of why alcohol-related health disparities exist. At present, alcohol studies that illuminate causal factors are needed to help inform and target public health prevention, treatment, and community interventions. We propose to analyze existing, nationally representative, cross-sectional data from the 2005 National Alcohol Survey to examine associations between minority status, social stressors such as poverty, racial stigma, and perceived discrimination, heavy drinking, and alcohol-related health and social problems. In so doing, we will capitalize on the existence of a national data set that includes large oversamples of Black and Hispanic Americans, that provides fine-grained measures of alcohol consumption and problems, and that allows us to explore the interplay of social, economic, psychological, and cultural factors with heavy drinking and alcohol problems in separate subgroups of Blacks, Hispanics, and whites. Our conceptual approach is informed by a growing body of work on the health impacts of racial bias and economic disadvantage, and recognizes the importance of both social structural and cultural aspects of race/ethnicity. Our specific aims are: (1) to examine associations between minority status, exposure to social stressors, and psychological distress; (2) to explore relationships between social stressors and heavy drinking, and consider the intervening roles of psychological distress and situational drinking norms and attitudes; and (3) to explore associations between minority status, social stressors, and alcohol-related problems; racial/ethnic differences in pathways leading to heavy drinking and alcohol problems; and the role of malt liquor. This re-analysis will inform the development of a future multi-method study of alcohol-related disparities to more closely examine the relationships that emerge here, with the use of more comprehensive and multi-level measures.