Relevant Thesis-Based Degree Programs
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Theses completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest theses.
Excessive drinking has adverse effects on health, particularly among older adults. Previous studies have primarily focused on the prevalence of excessive drinking behaviors in relation to socioeconomic status, psychological depression, and life-course factors such as divorce and unemployment. However, the influence of interpersonal relations and period effects on drinking behaviors has been overlooked. This study utilizes a nationally representative survey dataset, Midlife in the United States (MIDUS), to investigate how interpersonal and socioeconomic factors have affected excessive drinking from 1995 to 2013. A modified Poisson mixture model is employed to estimate the probability of initiating excessive drinking and the frequency of excessive drinking using grouped and right-censored data. The results reveal a significant increase in the overall incidence rate of excessive drinking in 2013. Furthermore, the low-income population reduced their frequency of excessive drinking during the economic downturn between 2004 and 2013. However, the influences of different interpersonal connections on individuals' drinking habits were not statistically significant. The implications of this study highlight the health outcomes differentiated between resilient and vulnerable older adults at risk of binge drinking.
Marijuana, the most widely used illicit drug in North America, has been a key focus of health-relatedsocial science research. Research shows that marijuana use among youth has increased inrecent years with the gradual decriminalization and legalization of marijuana in the U.S. There isalso evidence of disparities in frequency of adolescent marijuana use by gender, racial group, andsocioeconomic status. Using the national representative Monitoring the Future annual survey from1991 to 2017, this study investigates how marijuana use among middle-school and high-schoolstudents in the U.S. varies by gender, racial group, age group, time period, and birth cohort.Hierarchical Age-Period-Cohort Logistic method and multiple structural breaks in time series testswere used to illuminate temporal trends and identify vulnerable populations. The results reveal asteady increase in marijuana use in recent decades. Adolescents from four populations – male,non-Black, metropolitan residence, and low-educated parents – are at all-time high risks of usingmarijuana. Significant structural breaks identified in eight sub-groups coincide with economicrecessions that severely hit the American economy, and adolescents from different socio-economicgroups reacted differently during these periods. This study aims to raise awareness of the currenthigh risks of adolescent marijuana use and to help parents, schools, and communities design andimplement substance use prevention and intervention programs among adolescents.
Previous studies have investigated associations between family socioeconomic status (SES) andmental health over the life course and linkages between socioeconomic similarity and the qualityof couples’ relationships. However, these two bodies of literature have not informed each other,leaving the question that how parental relative SES may influence offspring’s adult mental healthunanswered. In this study, I use structural equational modeling (SEM) applied to the NationalLongitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health data to explore this question. I focus on parentaleducation as an indicator of family SES. I find that, for both sons and daughters, the effects ofmaternal education advantage on children’s adult mental health vary across different degrees ofeducational difference favoring mothers. More specifically, large maternal education advantage isassociated with more interparental discord, which erodes parent-child relationships. Further, lowerquality of family relationships in adolescence leads to worse mental health in adulthood. However,small maternal education advantage does not generate a significant impact. Moreover, equal parental education contributes to better adult mental health for daughters by improving the quality of father-daughter bonds, an effect not found for sons. This research provides a better understanding of connections among family SES, relationship processes, and individuals’ well-being.