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International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health





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Funded in part by the VCU Libraries Open Access Publishing Fund.

Date of Submission

December 2019


Background: Using a socioecological framework, we examined neighborhood and social stressors in concert with genetic risk for alcohol dependence in relation to externalizing behaviors, important precursors to alcohol-related problems.

Methods: We used data from African American adolescents and their caregivers in the Gene, Environment, and Neighborhood Initiative, a subsample of the Mobile Youth and Poverty Study. Participants for the current analyses included 112 adolescents who reported ever having at least one full drink of alcohol. Empirical Bayes scores were used to estimate neighborhood-level violence and transitions. Multivariate models tested main effects and then interactions of family stressors, discrimination, and genetic risk with the neighborhood variables.

Results: In the main effects model, adolescent externalizing behaviors were positively associated with greater family stressors, more racial discrimination experiences, and genetic liability, while neighborhood variables were nonsignificant. We found three significant interactions. Specifically, the joint effects of neighborhood violence and transitions and between these neighborhood variables and family stressors were significantly associated with externalizing behaviors.

Conclusions: Our findings suggest genetic liability and complex interactions between neighborhood context and social stressors are important contributors that should be considered in the development of early prevention programs for adolescents who live in economically disadvantaged areas.


© 2019 by the authors. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (

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