Background—Heavy episodic drinking is common among college students and remains a serious public health issue. Previous event-level research among college students has examined behaviors and individual-level characteristics that drive consumption and related consequences but often ignores the social network of people with whom these heavy drinking episodes occur. The main aim of the current study was to investigate the network of social connections between drinkers on their heaviest drinking occasions.
Methods—Sociocentric network methods were used to collect information from individuals in the first-year class (N=1342) at one university. Past-month drinkers (N=972) reported on the characteristics of their heaviest drinking occasion in the past month and indicated who else among their network ties was present during this occasion.
Results—Average max drinking day indegree, or the total number of times a participant was nominated as being present on another students’ heaviest drinking occasion, was 2.50 (SD = 2.05). Network autocorrelation models indicated that max drinking day indegree (e.g., popularity on heaviest drinking occassions) and peers’ number of drinks on their own maximum drinking occasions were significantly associated with participant maximum number of drinks, after controlling for demographic variables, pregaming, and global network indegree (e.g., popularity in the entire first-year class).
Conclusion—Being present at other peers’ heaviest drinking occasions is associated with greater drinking quantities on one’s own heaviest drinking occasion. These findings suggest the potential for interventions that target peer influences within close social networks of drinkers.
Meisel, Matthew K.; DiBello, Angelo M.; Balestrieri, Sara G.; Ott, Miles Q.; DiGuiseppi, Graham T.; Clark, Melissa A.; and Barnett, Nancy P., "An Event- and Network-Level Analysis of College Students’ Maximum Drinking Day" (2018). Statistical and Data Sciences: Faculty Publications, Smith College, Northampton, MA.
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