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Gender Moderates the Association Between Cognitive Reappraisal and Alcohol-Related Problems Among Adolescents.

BACKGROUND/OBJECTIVE: Alcohol use typically begins in adolescence, and the risk of later alcohol use disorders increases with earlier age of onset. Emotion dysregulation in adolescence has been linked to alcohol use. The present study seeks to extend previous findings by examining whether gender moderates the association between emotion regulation strategies (suppression and cognitive reappraisal) and alcohol-related problems in a longitudinal sample of adolescents.

METHOD: Data were collected as part of an ongoing study of high school students from the south-central region of the USA. The sample included 693 adolescents who participated in a study on suicidal ideation and risk behaviors. The majority of participants were girls (54.8%), white (85%) and heterosexual (87.7%). Baseline (T1) and 6-month follow-up (T2) data were analyzed for the present study.

RESULTS: Negative binomial moderation analyses revealed that gender moderated the association between cognitive reappraisal and alcohol-related problems, such that the association between reappraisal and alcohol-related problems was significantly stronger for boys than for girls. Gender did not moderate the association between suppression and alcohol-related problems.

CONCLUSIONS: The results suggest that emotion regulation strategies may be a particularly useful target for prevention and intervention efforts. Future research should consider tailoring adolescent alcohol prevention and intervention efforts focused on emotion regulation strategies by gender to bolster cognitive reappraisal skills and decrease suppression.

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