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Do normative perceptions of drinking relate to alcohol use in U.S. Military veterans presenting to primary care?

Aldridge-Gerry A, Cucciare MA, Ghaus S, Ketroser N. Do normative perceptions of drinking relate to alcohol use in U.S. Military veterans presenting to primary care? Addictive Behaviors. 2012 Jul 1; 37(7):776-82.

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OBJECTIVE: The current cross sectional study sought to examine whether perceived social normative beliefs are associated with indicators of alcohol use in a sample of alcohol misusing veterans. METHOD: A sample of 107 U.S. Military Veterans presenting to primary care that screened positive for alcohol misuse on the alcohol use disorders identification test-consumption items (AUDIT-C) was recruited. Assessment measures were used to examine social normative beliefs and alcohol-related concerns as they relate to indicators of alcohol use at baseline. RESULTS: Our findings indicate mixed support for our two hypotheses in that perceived descriptive norms were associated with alcohol use indicators in the predicted direction; however, this was not the case for alcohol-related concerns. For perceived norms, we found that higher quantity beliefs were significantly related to greater alcohol consumption on a drinking day (p < .01), increased likelihood of dependence (p < .01), and frequency beliefs were significantly related to total number of drinking days (p < .01). Findings for alcohol-related concerns emerged contrary to our hypothesis, with results depicting increased alcohol-related concerns associated with higher alcohol consumption across indicators of use (ps < .01). SUMMARY: Findings of the current study suggest that social normative beliefs, specifically misperceptions about descriptive norms, are significantly associated with alcohol consumption in a sample of alcohol misusing veterans presenting to primary care.

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