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Alcohol-related blackouts across 55 weeks of college: Effects of European-American ethnicity, female sex, and low level of response to alcohol.

  • Author(s): Schuckit, Marc A
  • Smith, Tom L
  • Goncalves, Priscila Dib
  • Anthenelli, Robert
  • et al.
Abstract

Background

While high blood alcohol concentrations (BACs) are required for alcohol-related blackouts (ARBs), additional characteristics also contribute to the risk, including a person's ethnicity, sex, and phenotypes relating to heavier drinking. Few prospective studies of ARBs have evaluated how these additional characteristics interact.

Method

Data regarding 398 European American (EA), Asian and Hispanic students were extracted from a 55-week prospective study of different approaches to decrease heavy drinking among college freshmen. Information on past month ARB frequency was determined at 8 assessments. While controlling for the prior month maximum BAC and active education vs. control group assignment, the patterns and intensities of ARBs over time across ethnic groups were evaluated with ANOVA at each follow-up for the full sample, and then separately by sex and then by low vs. high levels of response to alcohol status (LR). The overall pattern of ARBs over time was evaluated with a 3 ethnic groups by 2 sexes by 2 LR status by 8 time points mixed-design ANOVA.

Results

Higher rates of ARBs over time were associated with EA ethnicity, female sex and a low LR to alcohol, with the ethnic differences in ARBs most robust in females and drinkers with high LRs. Participation in education programs aimed at heavy drinking was associated with decreases in ARBs.

Conclusions

The data indicate that in addition to BACs achieved, propensities toward ARBs relate to complex interactions between additional risk factors, including ethnicity, sex, and LR status.

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