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Family, cultural diversity, and the development of Australian adolescent substance use

Objective: Australia is a multicultural country experiencing rapid immigration. New migrant families offer diversity in important cultural practices such as parenting that can potentially contribute insights for Australian efforts to address public health challenges. Adolescent substance use differs between cultures, and the objective of this study was to investigate potential contributing factors to these differences. It was hypothesized that differing family management practices between cultural groups would predict adolescent substance use. Method: This study utilized a large longitudinal study of adolescents in secondary schools in Melbourne, Australia (N = 2,080; aged 12.3 years, SD = 0.5 at study commencement; 55.5% female). Latent Class Analysis and multinomial regression were used to examine parenting factors and behaviors, and their association with the development of substance use among adolescents from different cultural backgrounds. Results: Cross-sectional analyses of adolescent reports revealed no significant differences in parenting style but higher levels of mother attachment, family rewards, and family opportunities among Australian-born adolescents in comparison to non-Australian-born. We observed similar results for comparisons of English speaking only and non-English Language Spoken at Home (LSH). Family management, non-English LSH, alcohol use and antisocial behavior in Year 7 longitudinally predicted alcohol and cannabis use in Year 9, after multivariate control for other risk factors. Conclusion: Indicators Cultural and linguistic diversity predicted longitudinal protective effects against adolescent substance use after multivariate adjustment for a range of family management factors. Given broad similarities in parenting style, future research should investigate the varied protective effect of cultural diversity factors across different substances.



Australian psychologist






382 - 390


John Wiley & Sons


Chichester, Eng.







Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2019, The Australian Psychological Society