UB Research to Study Alcoholic Mothers And Their Children

By Mary Beth Spina

Release Date: February 1, 1999 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Researchers in the University at Buffalo School of Social Work have received a four-year, $1.4 million federal grant to study maternal influences and behaviors on children when the mothers abuse alcohol.

The research, funded by the National Institute on Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse, will examine the factors tied to their mother's abuse of alcohol and drugs that puts these children at risk of becoming alcohol abusers.

Most research on children of alcoholics has focused on the effects of fathers' substance abuse.

Brenda Miller, Ph.D., professor of social work and director of the UB School of Social Work's Center for Research on Urban Social Work Practice, is principal investigator on the study. Nancy Smyth, Ph.D., associate professor and associate dean in the School of Social Work, is co-principal investigator.

The study is among the first to be conducted under the auspices of the center, which was created by Dean Lawrence Shulman to integrate the school's research findings with both practice and policy.

"The study is particularly exciting because it includes both mothers and their children, and is among the first to focus on how the mothers' problems affect their youngsters now and in the future," Miller said.

She added that maternal behaviors may be especially important in protecting children from the risks of exposure to family violence.

Researchers will interview 550 mothers and one of their children between the ages of 10 and 16. Interviews will take place in the research center's Harriman Family Center, located in Harriman Hall on the UB South (Main Street) Campus.

Mothers with alcohol problems to be interviewed will be selected by local alcoholism treatment agencies.

Other study participants -- who may have alcohol problems and/or be victims of domestic violence -- will be identified by community organizations and by other agencies.