New Research: Adolescent Alcohol Use in Rural Areas – The Influence of Parents

30 May 2016

adolescent alcohol use in rural areasThe role of parental supply in adolescent drinking has recently received attention in the media.

Two new research papers by CYSAR staff, both led by Dr Gary Chan, have explore the rates of adolescent drinking in urban and rural areas of Australia, and the role that parents play in adolescent alcohol use.  

Using survey responses from both the Australian Drug Strategy Household Survey, and the Victorian Health and Wellbeing Survey, this studies reported that adolescents living in rural areas were at greater risk of alcohol use compared to those from urban areas. Adolescents from rural areas were at 126% higher odds of drinking in the past 12 months. Adolescents from rural areas were also twice as likely to obtain their alcohol from their parents.

Further engaging with parental supply of alcohol to underage drinkers, Dr Chan and colleagues were interested in understanding differences in adolescent alcohol use across rural and urban communities, based on self-reported parental disapproval of alcohol use was examined. Parents in rural areas were found to have significantly lower levels of disapproval towards adolescent alcohol use, which partially explained the higher prevalence of alcohol use among adolescents in rural areas.

These findings highlight the important role of parents play in shaping adolescent drinking. The results suggest that parental disapproval that is communicated to their teenagers may help protect against underage drinking. Building parental awareness about the risks of alcohol use and the national alcohol guidelines may be an important strategy to reduce and prevent adolescent drinking in rural areas.


Chan, G.C.K., Leung, J., Quinn, C., Kelly, A.B., Connor, J.P., Weier, M., & Hall, W.D. (2015) Rural and Urban Differences in Adolescent Alcohol Use, Alcohol Supply, and Parental Drinking. The Journal of Rural Health, 1-7.

Chan, G.C.K., Kelly, A.B., Connor, J.P., Hall, W., Young, R.McD., Toumbourou, J.W., & Williams, J. (2016). Regional versus urban differences in teenage alcohol use: Does parental disapproval account for these differences? The Australian Journal of Rural Health, 24(1),     3-8.