Offspring Self-Disclosure Predicts Substance-Related Outcomes in an Emergency Department Sample of Young Adults with Traumatic Injury

J Subst Use. 2020;25(3):313-317. doi: 10.1080/14659891.2019.1692925. Epub 2019 Nov 18.


Background: Hundreds of thousands of individuals visit the emergency department (ED) every year, with many visits occurring following alcohol misuse. Parent-child relationship factors are associated with alcohol-related outcomes. For example, offspring choice to self-disclose information about their lives to parents, rather than parents actively soliciting this information, is associated with substance use. However, it is unclear whether self-disclosure uniquely predicts alcohol-related outcomes in a young adult ED sample.

Methods: Data were collected from young adults (age 18-30 years) visiting an ED for a traumatic injury (n=79). Participants were about 24.4 years old, majority male (53.7%), and Caucasian (76%; 24% African-American). A bifactor model within a structural equation model tested unique effects of self-disclosure on age at first drink, propensity for risky drinking, and likelihood of consuming substances prior to ED visit, over and above parental solicitation and a general factor and gender.

Results: Those who shared more information with their caregivers reported an older age at first drink, lower propensity for risky drinking and lower propensity to consume substances prior to their ED visit.

Conclusions: These findings suggest that self-disclosure may be a unique risk factor in the initiation of alcohol use, development of problem use, and consequences following use.

Keywords: Alcohol Use; Emergency Department; Parenting; Young Adults.