Internalizing Symptomology and the Role of Perceived Partner Drinking

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The current study examined relations between perceived partner drinking and symptoms of anxiety and depression, described components of different drinking partnerships, and tested how these partnerships relate to internalizing symptomology. Participants included a sample of 181 Texas Tech University undergraduate students in current romantic relationships who completed self-report questionnaires on measures evaluating internalizing symptomology, relationship satisfaction, as well as reported and perceived partner drinking behaviors. K-means and K-medoid cluster analysis was utilized to partition collected data into distinct clusters that varied on self-reported and perceived partner drinking as well as self-reported and perceived partner drinking problems. Hierarchical linear regression was used to examine how these dummy-coded clusters relate to reported anxiety, depression, and relationship satisfaction. Perceived partner drinking quantity and problems were significantly associated with symptoms of depression (r=.08-.16). Further, two drinking quantity (concordant light, concordant heavy) and three drinking problem partnerships (concordant light, discordant female high, discordant male high) were identified. Interaction terms between drinking partnership and sex explained significantly more variance in reported relationship satisfaction, depression, and anxiety than prior models accounting for the effects of sex, one’s reported drinking, and drinking partnership. Broadly, it was demonstrated that men’s anxiety and relationship satisfaction were significantly impacted by their drinking quantity and problem partnerships; this effect was not observed for women. Men’s depression was not significantly impacted by their drinking quantity and problem partnerships. The results of this study suggest that individual and relational outcomes are impacted by perceptions of their partner’s drinking, and have important treatment implications for clinical interventions with men, such as developing coping skills and monitoring alcohol-related distress.

Embargo status: Restricted until 06/2024. To request the author grant access, click on the PDF link to the left.

anxiety, perceptions, romantic relationship, alcohol, depression