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Adolescent Alcohol Use: Mixed Methods Research Approach

This paper describes how one research team uses a variety of qualitative, cultural anthropological research techniques and qualitative survey research techniques to better understand the characteristics of young people who drink and do not drink alcohol. The team used qualitative methods of cultural anthropology for initial small-group studies of three mental constructs known to predict behaviors. These mental constructs are: what young people expect to happen when they drink alcohol (alcohol expectancies), how they view Chinese and Western cultural values (cultural orientation), and how confident they are in believing they can manage pressures to drink alcohol (self-efficacy). Data from the qualitative study were used to construct surveys to measure expectancies, cultural orientation, and self-efficacy. The surveys were then tested on large groups of adolescents. The statistical analysis showed these surveys were capable of detecting differences in expectancies, cultural orientation, and self-efficacy between drinkers and nondrinkers. The insights gained from the survey data suggest ways policy and educational initiatives can be designed to reduce alcohol-related risks among adolescents.

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