Parent alcoholism impacts the severity and timing of children's externalizing symptoms

Andrea M. Hussong, Wenjing Huang, Patrick J. Curran, Laurie Chassin, Robert A. Zucker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Scopus citations


Although previous studies show that children of alcoholic parents have higher rates of externalizing symptoms compared to their peers, it remains unclear whether the timing of children's externalizing symptoms is linked to that of their parent's alcohol-related symptoms. Using a\ multilevel modeling approach, we tested whether children aged 2 through 17 showed elevated mother-, father- and child-reported externalizing symptoms (a) at the same time that parents showed alcohol-related consequences (timevarying effects), (b) if parents showed greater alcoholrelated consequences during the study period (proximal effects), and (c) if parents had a lifetime diagnosis of alcoholism that predated the study period (distal effects). We used integrative data analysis to combine samples from two prospective studies to test these hypotheses. Distal effects of parent alcoholism on increased child externalizing symptoms were large and consistent. In addition, proximal and time-varying effects of parent alcohol symptoms were also found. Implications for preventing escalations in externalizing symptoms among this high-risk population are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)367-380
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Abnormal Child Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Externalizing symptoms
  • Integrative data analysis
  • Intergenerational transmission
  • Parent alcoholism
  • Time-varying effects

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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