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Joe Grengs: Policy & planning for transportation equity

Perceived discrimination and alcohol use among black and white college students

Archived Abstract of Former PSC Researcher

Broman, Clifford L. 2007. "Perceived discrimination and alcohol use among black and white college students." Journal of Alcohol and Drug Education, 51(1): 8-16.

High rates of alcohol consumption among young adults are of concern since such heavy drinking has been demonstrated to lead to many social and/or physical problems. While there has been a great deal of high quality research on college drinking, there has been somewhat less attention on race in college drinking. It is well documented that black students are much less likely to use or abuse alcohol than are white students. However, our understanding of drinking behavior across diverse groups of students is limited, because the role of potential stressors, such as racial discrimination, has not been studied. As the research shows that stress motivated drinking does occur among college students, and that racial discrimination is an important stressor, the author and colleagues undertook research to investigate whether racial discrimination was related to drinking behavior among college students. Data were collected in 2001 from a survey of 1,587 college student volunteers from a Midwestern state. It was found that increases in perceived discrimination were associated with increased drinking behavior, and increased alcohol use problems among these college students. The finding that racial discrimination was related to alcohol use behavior in the college population is consistent with other research suggesting that stress plays an important role in alcohol use. Racial discrimination is a chronic stressor, particularly for African-Americans and other minorities, and has many negative consequences for health and happiness. These findings add to the growing literature which suggests that discrimination plays an important role in African-American well-being and mental health and related behavior.

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