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Friday, July 29, 2011

Hazardous drinking and military community functioning: Identifying mediating risk factors.

Hazardous drinking is a serious societal concern in military populations. Efforts to reduce hazardous drinking among military personnel have been limited in effectiveness.

There is a need for a deeper understanding of how community-based prevention models apply to hazardous drinking in the military.

Community-wide prevention efforts may be most effective in targeting community functioning (e.g., support from formal agencies, community cohesion) that impacts hazardous drinking via other proximal risk factors.

The goal of the current study is to inform community-wide prevention efforts by testing a model of community functioning and mediating risk factors of hazardous drinking among active duty U.S. Air Force personnel.

A large, representative survey sample of U.S. Air Force active duty members (N = 52,780) was collected at 82 bases worldwide. Hazardous drinking was assessed with the widely used Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (Saunders, Aasland, Babor, de la Fuente, & Grant, 1993). A variety of individual, family, and community measures were also assessed. Structural equation modeling was used to test a hypothesized model of community functioning, mediating risk factors and hazardous drinking.

Depressive symptoms, perceived financial stress, and satisfaction with the U.S. Air Force were identified as significant mediators of the link between community functioning and hazardous drinking for men and women. Relationship satisfaction was also identified as a mediator for men.

These results provide a framework for further community prevention research and suggest that prevention efforts geared at increasing aspects of community functioning (e.g., the U.S. Air Force Community Capacity model) may indirectly lead to reductions in hazardous drinking through other proximal risk factors.

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