All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Bisakha Sen

Advisory Committee Members

Julie Preskitt

Julie L Locher

Susan Davies

David Becker

Document Type

Dissertation

Date of Award

2014

Degree Name by School

Doctor of Public Health (DrPH) School of Public Health

Abstract

This three-manuscript dissertation addresses gaps in the literature related to the predictors of family meals and its impact on adolescent health behavior. Sharing dinner as a family has been promoted by the media and many researchers as an ideal environment to enrich the parent-child bond and subsequently reduce adolescent risk behaviors such as substance use and delinquency. This dissertation centers on three topics, in particular: (1) the nature of the family meal literature given the multiple adolescent health behavior outcomes, study designs, and model types investigated and used by researchers, (2) the impact of family dinners on adolescent school problems, and (3) the individual, family, economic, and policy predictors of frequent family dinners. The first study in this dissertation is a systematic review of existing studies which examined the relationship between family meals and certain adolescent health behavior outcomes. That is, it assesses studies which have centered on family meals and specific adolescent behaviors (e.g., substance use, delinquency, well-being), and identifies the types of studies which are more likely to find a protective relationship between family meals and the adolescent outcome of interest. The second paper in this dissertation examines if frequent family dinners are associated with school problems (e.g., suspension occurrence, poor grades, highest grade completed low for age) among adolescents. This paper will additionally attempt to account for unobservable differences among families related to beliefs or cohesiveness through family fixed effects. The third paper in this dissertation examines the individual (e.g., race, age, gender), family (e.g., household structure, location), economic (e.g., county-level family poverty status, female employment status, labor force), and policy (e.g., state-level SNAP/TANF benefits) predictors of frequent family dinners. This paper will stratify results by socioeconomic status to see if these predictors vary on this factor.

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