The Mediating Role of Anxiety Sensitivity in Uncontrolled Drinking: A Look at Gender-Specific Parental Influences

Ashley M. Ebbert, Julie Patock-Peckham, Jeremy W. Luk, Kirsten Voorhies, Olivia Warner, Robert F. Leeman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Background: Anxiety sensitivity (AS) reflects an individual's belief that experiencing anxiety will cause illness or embarrassment, and may be a reason individuals self-medicate with alcohol. Harsh or indulgent parenting could contribute to the development of AS. We examined the direct and indirect associations between parenting styles and alcohol-related variables through AS and impaired control over drinking (IC; i.e., perceived failure to adhere to limits on alcohol consumption in the future). Methods: A multiple-group structural equation model with 614 university students (344 men; 270 women) was examined. Structural invariance tests were conducted to evaluate moderation by gender. We used a bias corrected bootstrap technique to obtain the mediated effects. Results: Father authoritarianism and mother permissiveness were directly linked to AS among women, whereas father permissiveness was directly linked to AS among men. This suggests unique parental influences based on gender regarding AS. While AS was directly linked to alcohol-related problems for both men and women, several gender-specific associations were found. AS was directly linked to IC for men but not for women. For men, father permissiveness was directly related to AS, and AS mediated the indirect link between father permissiveness and IC along both the heavy episodic drinking and alcohol-related problems pathways. Similar to other internalizing constructs (e.g., neuroticism and depression), higher AS was directly associated with less heavy episodic drinking but more alcohol-related problems. Conclusions: Our findings highlight the dangers of AS for men as an important correlate of under-controlled drinking behaviors. Additionally, permissive parenting of the same-gender parent was associated with AS, which is consistent with the gender-matching hypothesis. Together, these results underscore the importance of measuring the independent influence of both parents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)914-925
Number of pages12
JournalAlcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2018


  • Alcohol Use
  • Alcohol-Related Problems
  • Anxiety Sensitivity
  • Impaired Control Over Drinking
  • Parenting Styles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Toxicology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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