Parental engagement and other factors associated with adolescents alcohol use and attitudes in Sri Lanka
Thesis DisciplineHealth Sciences
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
Adolescent alcohol use in Sri Lanka is a public health problem of growing concern. Policies introduced to try to reduce consumption have been relatively ineffective either through the impact of social forces or lack of resources. Another suggested approach is enhanced parental engagement. This research aimed to identify the patterns of and attitudes to alcohol consumption among Sri Lankan adolescents, determine how selected national and local environmental factors are related to consumption and establish relationships between parental engagement and adolescent alcohol use.
As this is a largely un-researched area in Sri Lanka the study used sequential exploratory mixed methods comprising four focus groups (29 participants) followed by a cross-sectional survey of a sample of 15-18 years old students (N=549) randomly selected from Government schools in four urban areas to examine parental engagement and other factors associated with adolescent alcohol use and attitudes. The survey drew on both findings of the focus groups (particularly related to peer influences, reasons for drinking and sources of illegal alcohol) and the international literature.
Approximately 5% of respondents reported drinking alcohol, 4% indicated that it was OK to drink alcohol under 21 years of age and 71% reported seeing others under 21 drinking. While 77% of respondents reported that young people drink alcohol to have fun, nearly as many (71%) reported that young people drink because they are sad and depressed. Of parental engagement types, parental monitoring was the most frequently reported, with parental controlling and communication identified at much lower levels.
This research provided substantial new information on adolescent attitudes to and experience of alcohol consumption, the social context of their drinking and their perspectives on parental engagement. This will be relevant for policy development and improving local and family interventions to reduce alcohol consumption. This research will be of interest to those wanting to see alcohol use within the broader context of adolescent health policy, particularly related to mental health.