Supervisory neglect and adolescent alcohol use disorders: Effects on AUD onset and treatment outcome

Duncan B. Clark, Dawn L. Thatcher, Stephen A. Maisto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Background: While parental supervision has been demonstrated to influence adolescent alcohol involvement, lack of a threshold defining inadequate supervision and little study of DSM defined alcohol use disorders (AUDs) have limited clinical applications. Utilizing a four-item supervision scale, this study identified adolescents with inadequate supervision, and examined effects on AUD development and treatment outcome. Methods: Two groups of adolescent subjects (ages 14-17) were recruited: (1) a representative community sample of adolescents (n = 170) and (2) adolescents with AUDs from drug and alcohol or psychiatric treatment programs (n = 194). Supervision was determined by the adolescent's responses to items inquiring whether parents typically had knowledge of the adolescent's activities away from home, including with whom, where, when, and communication items. Adolescents with unusually low parental supervision (i.e., Supervisory Neglect) were identified by scale distributions. Follow-up assessments were conducted 1, 3, and 5 years after the initial assessment. Results: Among community subjects, adolescents with inadequate supervision were significantly more likely to drink alcohol in a variety of situations, were more likely to have AUDs at the initial assessment and, among those without AUDs, were more likely to develop AUDs in the follow-up period. Among adolescents receiving treatment for AUDs, those with inadequate supervision were less likely to be free of AUD symptoms over a 1-year follow-up period. Conclusions: These results indicate that the described method was a straightforward and potentially clinically applicable approach to identifying adolescents with inadequate parental supervision.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1737-1750
Number of pages14
JournalAddictive Behaviors
Issue number9
StatePublished - Oct 2005


  • Adolescents
  • Alcohol use disorders
  • Parenting
  • Supervision

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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