Food and Behaviour Research

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The Enduring Effects of Parental Alcohol, Tobacco, and Drug Use on Child Well-being: A Multilevel Meta-Analysis

Kuppens S, Moore SC, Gross V, Lowthian E, Siddaway AP (2019) Dev Psychopathol.  2019 Jul : 1-14. doi: 10.1017/S0954579419000749. [Epub ahead of print] 

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The effects of psychoactive substance abuse are not limited to the user, but extend to the entire family system, with children of substance abusers being particularly at risk.

meta-analysis attempted to quantify the longitudinal relationship between parental alcoholtobacco, and drug use and child well-being, investigating variation across a range of substance and well-being indices and other potential moderators. We performed a literature search of peer-reviewed, English language, longitudinal observational studies that reported outcomes for children aged 0 to 18 years.

In total, 56 studies, yielding 220 dependent effect sizes, met inclusion criteria. A 
multilevel random-effects model revealed a statistically significant, small detriment to child well-being for parental substance abuse over time (r = .15). Moderator analyses demonstrated that the effect was more pronounced for parental drug use (r = .25), compared with alcohol use (r = .13), tobacco use (r = .13), and alcohol use disorder (r = .14).

Results highlight a need for future studies that better capture the effect of 
parental psychoactive substance abuse on the full breadth of childhood well-being outcomes and to integrate substance abuse into models that specify the precise conditions under which parental behavior determines child well-being.