Single Parent Family Structure as a Predictor of Alcohol Use among Secondary School Students: Evidence from Jamaica

Document Type : Research Articles


1 Department of General Studies and Behavioural Sciences, University of the Commonwealth Caribbean, Kingston, Jamaica

2 Department of Community Health and Psychiatry, Faculty of Medical Sciences, The University of the West Indies, Mona, Kingston, Jamaica

3 School of Nursing, Faculty of Medical Sciences, The University of the West Indies, Mona, Kingston, Jamaica

4 Department of Guidance and Counselling, Faculty of Education, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Nigeria

5 Department of Medicine, Federal Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki, Nigeria

6 College of Medicine, University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus, Enugu, Nigeria


Background: In Jamaica, alcohol is the most commonly used substance among adolescents and young persons.
The aim of this study was to examine the potential relationship between Jamaican secondary students’ alcohol drinking
habits and their family structure. Methods: Data collected from a nationally representative survey of 3,365 students
were analysed. Descriptive and inferential statistics were performed. Results: Out of the 3,365 students, 1,044 (31.0%)
were from single-parent families. Single-parent families, married-parent families and common law-parent families were
significantly associated with lifetime use of alcohol (AOR= 1.72, 95% CI= 1.06 - 2.79; AOR= 1.73, 95% CI= 1.07- 2.81,
AOR= 1.94, 95%CI= 1.17- 3.21 respectively). However, family structure was not significantly associated with past
year and past month alcohol use. Students whose parents “sometimes” knew their whereabouts were significantly less
likely to use alcohol in their lifetime compared to students whose parents “Always” knew where the students were.
Conclusion: Family structure is an independent predictor of alcohol use among high school students in Jamaica.
Being from single-parent families, married-parent and common- law parent families were significantly associated with
increased likelihood for lifetime alcohol use.


Main Subjects