Link to the University of Pittsburgh Homepage
Link to the University Library System Homepage Link to the Contact Us Form

Multiplex Familial Risk for Alcohol Use Disorders and Substance Use Disorder Outcome: The Mediating Effects of Social Functioning

O'Brien, Jessica (2020) Multiplex Familial Risk for Alcohol Use Disorders and Substance Use Disorder Outcome: The Mediating Effects of Social Functioning. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

Download (1MB) | Preview


Alcohol use disorders (AUD) are associated with deficits in social cognition, the mental processes involved in perceiving, attending to, remembering, thinking about, and making sense of the people in our social world. Consistent findings of impaired theory of mind and affective face processing in AUD raise questions as to whether these deficits are the consequence of neural damage associated with AUD or potentially reflect premorbid risk for alcohol-related problems. Offspring with a family history of AUD are at increased risk for substance use disorders (SUD), and some research suggests that alcohol-naïve, high-risk offspring also have deficits in social-cognitive functioning. However, evidence linking premorbid social-cognitive functioning to SUD outcome has not yet been established. Accordingly, this dissertation sought to examine specific measures of social functioning, thought to reflect underlying social-cognitive abilities, and their relationship to both familial risk status and SUD outcome. The sample included high-risk offspring (n = 137) from multiplex, alcohol-dependent families and low-risk controls (n = 122) from an ongoing longitudinal study comprising 2,387 separate evaluations. Risk-group differences were examined on parent-report measures of social competence and social problems collected during childhood, self-report measures of social support from parents and friends during adolescence, and self-report measures of personality administered in young adulthood. Structural equation modeling (SEM) was used to examine relationships between familial risk status, social functioning, adolescent alcohol use, and SUD outcome. Compared to low-risk controls, high-risk offspring had poorer performance on measures of social functioning administered during childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood, higher rates of alcohol use during adolescence, and increased likelihood of developing SUD by young adulthood. Further, the relationship between familial risk status and SUD outcome was partially mediated by social competence in childhood, by alcohol use in adolescence, and in association with social connectedness and alienation in young adulthood. This dissertation provides preliminary evidence that social functioning is impaired among high-risk offspring before the onset of regular alcohol use and that these deficits confer additional risk for SUD above and beyond the influence of familial risk. Interventions targeting social functioning may improve outcomes among youth at high familial risk for AUD.


Social Networking:
Share |


Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
O'Brien, Jessicajwo9@pitt.edujwo9
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairHill, Shirleysyh50@pitt.edusyh50
Committee MemberPogue-Geile, Michaelmfpg@pitt.edumfpg
Committee MemberSayette, Michaelsayette@pitt.edusayette
Committee MemberEack, Shaunsme12@pitt.edusme12
Committee MemberShaw, Danieldanielshaw@pitt.edudanielshaw
Date: 16 January 2020
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 6 September 2019
Approval Date: 16 January 2020
Submission Date: 4 December 2019
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 128
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Psychology
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Adolescence, Alcohol, Alienation, Familial Risk, Social Competence, Substance Use Disorder Alcohol, Substance Use Disorder, Social Functioning, Familial Risk
Date Deposited: 16 Jan 2020 19:22
Last Modified: 16 Jan 2020 19:22


Monthly Views for the past 3 years

Plum Analytics

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item