Longitudinal Change in Alcohol Use and Motivations for Drinking Among Asian American College Students

Kaylin M. Greene, Jennifer L. Maggs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background: Asian Americans are understudied in the literature on alcohol, due to data limitations and the perception that they are at low risk for alcohol misuse. Yet, certain subpopulations—such as college students—may be at higher risk. The current study examined longitudinal change in alcohol use and motivations for drinking among Asian American students. We tested for differences by nativity status, ethnic origin, and gender and examined whether motivations covaried with alcohol use. Methods: Asian American first-year college students (N = 199, 45.7% female, 37.7% foreign-born) attending a US university were identified through stratified random sampling using registrar information. For 7 consecutive semesters, students completed online surveys about their behaviors and beliefs. Results: Multilevel models demonstrated that alcohol use and alcohol-related motivations increased over time. US-born students consistently consumed more alcoholic drinks, reached higher peak drinking levels, and drank more frequently than foreign-born students; however, motivations did not differ by nativity status. Chinese American students consumed less alcohol, drank less, and were more motivated to avoid alcohol-related consequences than students of other/multiple heritage ethnic origins. Each motivation subscale was associated with alcohol use at the between-person level. Likewise, within-person variability in motivations was linked to variability in drinking across semesters. Controlling for other motivations, drinking for fun emerged as the strongest correlate of alcohol use variability. Conclusions: Alcohol misuse was highest among US-born students and those with higher motivations for drinking. Furthermore, alcohol use varied in tandem with motivations, suggesting that motivations may be a useful intervention target among this population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2109-2117
Number of pages9
JournalAlcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Toxicology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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