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Anxiety and depression as comorbid factors in drinking behaviors of undergraduate college students attending an urban private university in the northeastern United States

Charles J Vohs, Johnson & Wales University

Abstract

High-risk drinking is the number one public health concern on college campuses (Berkowitz, 2003; Kapner, 2003; Wechsler, 2002). To date, high-risk drinking prevention programs have met with limited success (Kapner, 2003). ^ This study examined differences among four drinking behavior groups: nondrinkers [(ND), (n = 128)], low-risk drinkers [(LRD), (n = 252)], high-risk drinkers [(HRD), (n = 272)], and frequent high-risk drinkers [(FHRD), (n = 290)] with respect to anxiety and depression for male (n = 457) and female (n = 485) undergraduates (N = 942) attending an urban private university in the northeastern United States; and, the perceptions of two undergraduate focus groups (N = 10) and one faculty/staff group (N = 14) for why undergraduates engage in high-risk drinking and actions to reduce this behavior. ^ Volunteer participants completed a demographic questionnaire, the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test, the Beck Anxiety Inventory, and the Beck Depression Inventory. An ANOVA indicated differences among the groups with respect to anxiety (F = 6.49, p < .001), but not with respect to depression. The FHRD group had higher anxiety (M = .68) than the ND group (M = .33) and the LRD group (M = .44). Female frequent high-risk drinkers had a greater level (M = .77) of anxiety than male non-drinkers (M = .25). A t-test indicated differences (p < .01) in the level of anxiety between HRD females (M = .69) and HRD males (M = .40), with no differences for depression. A chi-square analysis indicated differences between males and females with respect to drinking behavior group classification (χ2 = 22.40, df = 3, p = .001). ^ Focus group results suggested several reasons why students engage in high-risk drinking: it is the norm, easy access to alcohol, low accountability for drinking, cope with anxiety, relieve boredom, lift depression, cope with anger, family history of alcohol use, alcohol dependence, and poor self-esteem. Areas recommended for university action to reduce undergraduate high-risk drinking were: school spirit; drinking accountability; student wellness services; and collaboration with parents, the city, and between academic and student affairs. ^

Subject Area

Psychology, Behavioral|Education, Guidance and Counseling|Health Sciences, Public Health|Education, Higher

Recommended Citation

Vohs, Charles J, "Anxiety and depression as comorbid factors in drinking behaviors of undergraduate college students attending an urban private university in the northeastern United States" (2008). Dissertation & Theses Collection. AAI3322539.
http://scholarsarchive.jwu.edu/dissertations/AAI3322539

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