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Modeling Drinking Behavior Progression in Youth with Cross-sectional Data: Solving an Under-identified Probabilistic Discrete Event System

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Background: The probabilistic discrete event systems (PDES) method provides a promising approach to study dynamics of underage drinking using cross-sectional data. However, the utility of this approach is often limited because the constructed PDES model is often non-identifiable. The purpose of the current study is to attempt a new method to solve the model.

Methods: A PDES-based model of alcohol use behavior was developed with four progression stages (never-drinkers [ND], light/moderate-drinker [LMD], heavy-drinker [HD], and ex-drinker [XD]) linked with 13 possible transition paths. We tested the proposed model with data for participants aged 12-21 from the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH). The Moore-Penrose (M-P) generalized inverse matrix method was applied to solve the proposed model.

Results: Annual transitional probabilities by age groups for the 13 drinking progression pathways were successfully estimated with the M-P generalized inverse matrix approach. Result from our analysis indicates an inverse “J” shape curve characterizing pattern of experimental use of alcohol from adolescence to young adulthood. We also observed a dramatic increase for the initiation of LMD and HD after age 18 and a sharp decline in quitting light and heavy drinking.

Conclusion: Our findings are consistent with the developmental perspective regarding the dynamics of underage drinking, demonstrating the utility of the M-P method in obtaining a unique solution for the partially-observed PDES drinking behavior model. The M-P approach we tested in this study will facilitate the use of the PDES approach to examine many health behaviors with the widely available cross-sectional data.
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Keywords: Behavioral model; Moore-Penrose generalized inverse matrix; cross-sectional data; non-identifiable system PDES; transitional probability; underage drinking

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2016-03-01

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  • Current HIV Research aims to cover all the latest and outstanding developments of HIV research. We invite comprehensive review articles and novel, pioneering work in the basic and clinical fields on all areas of HIV research, including virus replication and gene expression, HIV assembly, virus-cell interaction, viral pathogenesis, epidemiology and transmission, anti-retroviral therapy and adherence, drug discovery, the latest developments in HIV/AIDS vaccines and animal models, mechanisms and interactions with AIDS related diseases, social and public health issues related to HIV disease, and prevention of viral infection. Each issue of the journal contains a series of timely in-depth reviews and original research written by leaders in the field covering a range of current topics on HIV research. Periodically, the journal will invite guest editors to devote an issue on a particular area of HIV research of great interest that increases our understanding of the virus and its complex interaction with the host.
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