Portland State University. Department of Psychology
Cynthia D. Mohr
Term of Graduation
Date of Publication
Master of Science (M.S.) in Psychology
1 online resource (vi, 129 pages)
Increases in women's excessive alcohol use are leading to concerns about a developing public health problem since, for women, it takes fewer years and lower doses to develop a range of alcohol-induced health problems. Maternal status is generally considered protective against alcohol use; however, this effect is weakened by multiple social role strain, leading to higher stress and negative affect, and subsequent coping-related alcohol use. Given that the majority of mothers with young children are working or looking for work (72.3%; BLS, 2021), it is likely that the combination of competing demands and expectations associated with multiple roles of parent, partner, and employee may lead to negative affective states and be detrimental to women's health. The aim of this thesis was to explore mothers' drinking behavior among National Guard Service Member spouses (N=250, Mage=37; 76.4% working outside the home) recruited as part of the Military Employment Sleep and Health Study (MESH), who may be vulnerable to increased risk of multiple role strain and alcohol-related problems.
Mothers' domestic role burden was modeled as a single construct of mothers' domestic role strain (DRS), confirmed through Confirmatory Factor Analysis to consist of negative parenting behavior, chaotic home environment, and difficulty in self-reliance in managing household/family obligations. Next, mothers' alcohol use was modeled as a function of DRS and negative affect as literature on the mental health of mothers raising children asserts problematic alcohol use as specifically associated with loneliness and distress. Finally, the influence of drinking-to-cope motives were tested in line with theory on the relieving properties of alcohol. Results demonstrated that mothers reporting more negative DRS are lonelier and more distressed than mothers with less DRS. Moderated mediation showed that for mothers experiencing loneliness in the context of more DRS, such loneliness predicted higher drinking quantities, particularly at higher levels of coping motives. The same relationship was found for distress-mediated pathways. Therefore, results are consistent with the notion that mothers who endorse some level of drinking to cope are most at risk for drinking when lonely or distressed associated with a more DRS. This thesis disentangles potential contributing factors of mothers' alcohol use behavior by highlighting the critical relationship that coping motives play in terms of mothers' DRS, associated negative affect, and alcohol use. As this triad is known to have numerous deleterious effects, such as impaired or ineffective parenting, heightened parental/family stress, marital discord, and child health and adjustment problems, the ripple effect of stressful situations may reinforce mothers' coping motives and potentially perpetuate mothers' susceptibility to harmful drinking. Finally, the multipath influence of coping motives between mothers' DRS and alcohol use may inform parenting and alcohol interventions and support programs to target alternative coping strategies to increase levels of family readiness, social connection, and reactivity to stress in the family that may work to reduce risk of alcohol problems for military and comparable civilian families.
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Umemoto, Sheila Kathleen, "Mothers' Drinking Motives" (2021). Dissertations and Theses. Paper 5881.