This study had limitations which may have affected the findings. Future research should take account of these limitations. Firstly, this study had a cross-sectional design, therefore causality between the significant associations such as parental alcohol misuse and MHS cannot be inferred, and a temporal relationship cannot be identified. Future research should address the aims using a longitudinal design, to determine whether non-dependent parental alcohol misuse impacts their offspring MHS from childhood, adolescence, into young adulthood. This would make data more reliable.
Secondly, although participants were recruited from the wider community, the recruitment methods led to an overrepresentation of students and females, therefore responses were potentially biased. Future research should aim to recruit a sample that is representative of both genders and non-students, to make the findings generalisable.
Previous studies have collected data from both parents and child whereas this study used retrospective accounts of parental drinking from young adults. Firstly, this causes concern as reports may have been subject to memory deficits or under-reporting, as parents may not expose to their drinking behaviours in front of their children. This may explain the lower number of participants reporting that their parents misused alcohol and could account for the lack of significant associations of parental alcohol misuse and alcohol measures. Future research should screen both parents directly, which would make data more reliable.
Lastly, future research should measure parental MHS, as there is a potential that this may have mediated the associations in this study. This would be beneficial to identify whether this has an effect on young adults MHS. Overall, future research needs to take account of the limitations mentioned.
This study focused on non-dependent parental alcohol misuse, which is beneficial due to the normalisation of drinking in society. Interventions would be beneficial to educate parents on the impacts of their alcohol use on young adult’s mental health, which can motivate their behaviour change. Additionally, we recommend an increase for services to support young adults that are exposed to parental problem drinking, which can offer treatment pathways to reduce their MHS. Furthermore, due to the poor integrated support in alcohol and mental health services, we recommend that interventions should target the co-morbid relationships between MHS and alcohol misuse.
This can encourage alcohol abstinence in all populations with MHS and can highlight the benefits of using safer coping mechanisms, rather than using alcohol to cope. Lastly, although not a primary finding, the negative association between resilience and MHS in young adults is useful for clinicians to create psychosocial interventions within mental health treatment such as CBT to increase resilience. Methods could focus on building self-esteem which may be an effective intervention to diminish MHS in young adults.
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