Alcohol expectancy, impulsivity predict problem drinking
Problem drinking is best predicted by alcohol expectancy in females and by Barratt impulsivity combined with expectancy in males, a recent study shows.
Volume and frequency of alcohol consumption of 158 social drinkers (mean age 29.8±10.6 years; 86 females) were evaluated using the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT). Participants also accomplished the Alcohol Expectancy Questionnaire and the Barrett Impulsivity Scale.
The Computational Anatomy Toolbox was used to perform voxel-based morphometry to determine differences in brain tissue composition and its effects of behaviour and cognition.
The mean AUDIT score was 5.2±4.2, which suggests a moderate level of problem drinking. The mean global positive (GP) alcohol expectancy was 10.8±4.1, while the mean Barratt Impulsivity Scale (BIS) score was 60.3±9.1. Males scored slightly higher in the BIS than females.
AUDIT scores were significantly positively correlated with GP (p=3.2 × 10−12), BIS (p=7.4 × 10−4) and both GP and BIS (GPxBIS; p=5.9 × 10−14) in the entire cohort. These trends were retained in males (p=8.2×10−6 for GP; p=2.5×10−3 for BIS; p=9.1×10−7 for GPxBIS).
In contrast, only GP (p=8.3×10−9) and GPxBIS (p=1.9×10−8) were significantly correlated with AUDIT scores in females. Comparing regression slopes showed that the association between BIS scores and AUDIT was significantly lower in females (p=0.045).
General linear models controlling for age showed that GP was the best predictor for problem drinking. This was followed by BISxGP for males, females and both sexes combined. GP was the poorest predictor of problem drinking.