Background: Alcohol use among adolescents has become a major public health problem in the past decade and has large short- and long-term consequences on their health. The aim of this systematic review was to provide an overview of longitudinal cohort studies that have analyzed the association between the parent-child relationship (PCR) and change in alcohol use during adolescence.
Methods: A search of the literature from 1985 to July 2011 was conducted in Medline, PsycINFO, and EMBASE in order to identify longitudinal, general population studies regarding the influence of the PCR on alcohol use during adolescence. The studies were screened, and the quality of the relevant studies was assessed. A best-evidence synthesis was used to summarize the results.
Results: Twenty-eight relevant studies were identified. Five studies found that a negative PCR was associated with higher levels of alcohol use. Another seven papers only found this association for certain subgroups such as boys or girls, or a specific age group. The remaining sixteen studies did not find any association.
Conclusions: We found weak evidence for a prospective association between the PCR and adolescent alcohol use. Further research to the association of the PCR with several types of alcohol use (e.g., initiation or abuse) and to the potential reversed causality of the PCR and alcohol use is required.