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Secondary harms of parental substance use on children’s educational outcomes

Lowthian, Emily 2021. Secondary harms of parental substance use on children’s educational outcomes. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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Introduction Parental substance use, that is alcohol and illicit drugs, can place children at greater risk for mental illness, substance use, and injury. While studies document a negative relationship between parental substance use and the educational outcomes of children, many have not explored why this occurs. Interventions and family systems theory suggests that parenting and the family environment may be interrupted, which in turn may lead to lower educational outcomes. As educational outcomes can be associated with future life chances and adult socioeconomic status, there is a need for research in this area. This thesis aims to explore the relationship and mediators between parental substance use and children’s educational outcomes. Methods A secondary analysis of The Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children and The Millennium Cohort Study was conducted. Structural Equation Modelling was employed to create an exposure variable, using latent class analysis, and latent variables for parenting and the family environment. The relationship was explored using regression and mediation analysis. Results The latent class analysis showed that parents who use substances somewhat mirror each other’s behaviours. The class which had the highest consumption of substances had no or a positive relationship with educational outcomes, but this was annulled once confounders were adjusted for. In contrast, SEM mediation models showed evidence for parenting and the family environment as indirect effects. However, the models had significant socioeconomic confounding, whereby higher socioeconomic groups showed little mediation effects, whereas low socioeconomic groups showed more. The findings across cohorts were similar, suggesting some replicability. Conclusion This research highlights the importance of measuring substance use, the contribution of parenting and the family environment as mediators, and how this operates across socioeconomic contexts. These findings are important for interventions, policymakers, and stakeholders in understanding how to support families experiencing substance use.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Funders: ESRC
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 28 September 2021
Last Modified: 27 Sep 2022 01:30

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