Objective: The present study sought to determine if there were gender differences in the impact of five psychosocial risk and protective factors for adolescent alcohol use. The five factors considered by the study were family relationships, self-esteem, peer pressure, religious involvement and school performance.
Method: This was a cross-sectional quantitative study which utilized a 96-item self-administered questionnaire. The questionnaire captured key demographic and alcohol-related information. It also consisted of three standardized scales: the Cernkovich and Giordano’s Family Relationship Scale, Rosenberg Self-esteem Scale and the CAGE questionnaire. Data were collected from students 12−18 years old in three schools in the Kingston and St Andrew area in Jamaica.
Results: There were 240 participants in the study, 121 males and 119 females. The findings revealed that there were no significant differences between male and female adolescent alcohol use in the last 30 days. There was also no significant difference between male and female adolescent risk of substance abuse. Logistic regression analysis of risk factor for each gender revealed that for males, their family relationship, peer pressure and self-esteem were significant predictors for alcohol use, while for females, peer pressure and school performance were significant predictors for alcohol use. Religious involvement was not found to be a significant protective factor for either gender.
Conclusion: Gender differences in risk and protective factors exist among Jamaican adolescents. Further research needs to be done to determine the extent of these differences which need to be considered in the development of prevention and intervention programmes.