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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
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.
Behavioral psychology|School counseling|Public health|Higher education
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.