The Influence of Stressors and Strain on Alcohol Use in Canadian Armed Forces Members

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Rankin, Karen




Historically, alcohol consumption in the military has been widespread, especially post-deployment, which causes concern for the leadership of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) in the post-Afghanistan deployment era. In order to shed light onto this important issue, two studies assessed the impact of multiple stressors and strain on alcohol consumption utilizing a stressor-strain-alcohol consumption model (SSAC model). Moreover, generational differences in alcohol consumption as well as various elements of the SSAC model were examined. In Study 1, an initial model identified the influence of pre-military service life stressors on alcohol consumption in recently enrolled members and found that increases in Negative Life Events and Exposure to Violence in their pre-service lives were associated with increases in alcohol consumption, and that these associations were mediated by posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms (PTSD). Interestingly, Millennials were found to consume more alcohol than both Gen Xers and Late Baby Boomers, and they also demonstrated weaker associations between Childhood Neglect/Depression, Childhood Neglect/PTSD, and alcohol consumption/Negative Life Events than did Gen Xers. Equally noteworthy, Gen Xers and Late Baby Boomers consumed alcohol to the same degree. In Study 2, a revised model was tested in the post-deployment context with Combat Exposure as the stressor. Also, baseline information from pre-enrollment (Time 1) was controlled in the post-deployment SSAC model (Time 2) to further elucidate the impact of Combat Exposure on strain and alcohol consumption. Results indicated which stressors, namely Negative Life Events and Childhood Adversity, and strain (i.e., Depression and PTSD), had cumulative, long-term effects on members' alcohol consumption. Generations did not differ significantly on alcohol consumption, but it was noted that Millennials demonstrated weaker association between Time 1 and Time 2 alcohol consumption than did Gen Xers. This thesis bridges the gap in our understanding of alcohol consumption in a highly relevant and high-risk environment, thereby providing the CAF with insight into current alcohol consumption trends and precursors to alcohol consumption across generations.


Psychology - Experimental




Carleton University

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