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Dissertation Roundup: Drug Use and Young People, International Edition

Updated: Aug 29

Editor’s note: In today’s post, we highlight a few recent dissertations on drug use among young people from around the world. These entries are part of an ongoing drug-related dissertation bibliography being compiled by Jonathon Erlen, which was formerly published in the Social History of Alcohol and Drugs journal but is now periodically featured on the Points blog. Contact Dr. Erlen through the link above. Stay tuned for original content, coming soon!

The Development of Health Risk Behaviors by Mexican-Origin Youth

Author: Bacher, Kelly Beaumont

Abstract: This dissertation investigates the development of risky health behaviors by Mexican-origin youth. The two papers comprising this dissertation utilize data from a community sample of Mexican-origin adolescents participating in a prospective, longitudinal research study. Paper 1 examines the longitudinal relationship between ethnic discrimination and adolescent substance use behaviors. This study extends previous work by examining these processes in children of Mexican origin, who are often neglected in research on discrimination. Findings reveal that ethnic discrimination from peers at school predicts increases in substance use across a five-year period of adolescence. Paper 1 also assesses supportive parenting as a source of resilience by investigating potential compensatory and buffering effects on adolescent drug and alcohol use. Paper 2 examines the extent to which, during the transition from late childhood into adolescence, individual and contextual characteristics of female youth predict engagement in risky sexual behavior. This paper addresses a need in the current literature on sexual risk-taking by investigating predictors of this behavior for girls of Mexican origin, who often report higher levels of risky sexual behavior than other ethnic groups. Results indicate that early pubertal development and affiliating with deviant peers are important direct predictors of later sexual behavior. This study also examines indirect and transactional relationships between study variables. Together, these papers enhance our understanding of the family, peer, and personal characteristics of minority children that influence the development of health risk behaviors.

Publication year: 2015

Advisor: Conger, Rand D.

Committee members: Martin, Monica; Nishina, Adrienne; Ontai, Lenna; Widaman, Keith

University/institution: University of California, Davis

Department: Human Development

Familismo and Adolescent Health: The Role of Key Cultural and Familial Processes on Latino Youth Substance Use

Author: Martinez, Marcos Jerome

Abstract: A secondary data analysis was conducted to investigate the direct and indirect effects of family traditionalism, family cohesion, and parent involvement on alcohol, cigarette, and marijuana use in a sample of pre-adolescent youth ( N = 635) and their parents ( N = 462). Aim one hypothesized that family cohesion and family traditionalism would be indicators of a higher order construct, operationalized as familismo. Aims two and three hypothesized that family traditionalism, family cohesion, and parent involvement would be protective against youth substance use. Finally, aim four hypothesized that acculturation would decrease the protective effects of family traditionalism and family cohesion on substance use. Using second order confirmatory factor analysis, aim one found that family cohesion and family traditionalism were indicators of a second order structure. Regarding aims two and three, a consistent significant association was found between family cohesion and parent involvement across alcohol, cigarette, and marijuana use outcomes. As well, family cohesion was significantly and inversely associated with past 30-day alcohol use amount (β = -.21, p < 0.05), lifetime alcohol use (β = -.19, p < 0.05), and lifetime marijuana use (β = -.31, p < 0.001). Counter to what was hypothesized, a significant positive relationship between family traditionalism and past 30-day alcohol use amount was found. No significant indirect effects were found. Specific to aim four, significant moderation effects were found between family cohesion and acculturation on alcohol and cigarette use. Higher acculturated youth had greater past 30-day alcohol and cigarette use amount compared to low acculturated youth; as family cohesion increased, alcohol and cigarette use for both low and high-acculturated youth decreased. This study has important implications for social work and future research specific to culture, family, and youth substance use. This study may assist direct social work practitioners, school personnel, and other professionals that work with Latino youth and families in the tailoring of services that are culturally sensitive and relevant to this population and provides further understanding regarding the impact of culture and family on Latino youth substance use. Findings and limitations are discussed specific to social work practice, policy, and research.

Publication year: 2015

Advisor: Marsiglia, Flavio F.

Committee members: Anthony, Elizabeth; Kulis, Stephen

University/institution: Arizona State University

Department: Social Work

Associations of Dispositional Characteristics and Alcohol Use among Chinese Adolescents

Author: Sabado, Melanie Dee

Abstract: The purpose of this dissertation was to identify negative (symptoms of depression, aggression, sensation seeking, perceived stress, hostility, and urgency) and positive (perseverance, optimism, mindfulness, social self-efficacy, and self-control) dispositional characteristics associated with alcohol use in a cohort of 10 th -11 th grade academic high school and vocational school students in Chengdu, China. Baseline dispositional characteristics were analyzed to infer causal alcohol use behavior at follow up (N=4873, Study 1; N=3599, Studies 2 and 3). The research classified important dispositional and social determinants contributing to varying levels of alcohol use (past 30-day alcohol use and female/male binge drinking) and alcohol use patterns (i.e. abstainers, initiators, continuous users, quitters). Results revealed that females participated in past 30-day alcohol use as frequently as males, vocational students were more likely to use alcohol than academic school students, and males attending vocational school had the highest rates of binge drinking. In addition, both academic and vocational school students reported similar dispositional associations with alcohol use. Continuous users at follow up displayed high levels of negative and low levels of positive dispositional characteristics to a greater extent than did initiators compared to abstainers. High levels of aggression, sensation seeking, and urgency as well as low levels of mindfulness and self-control were robust predictors of alcohol consumption across the three studies regardless of alcohol use levels, alcohol use patterns, gender, or school type. These results demonstrate that dispositional characteristics as well as social and cultural influences are strong antecedents of alcohol use among Chinese adolescents. The findings also strongly suggest the need for public health and policy initiatives aimed at preventing underage and excessive alcohol use.

Publication year: 2016

Advisors: Palmer, Paula H.; Johnson, Carl Anderson

Committee member: Xie, Bin

University/institution: The Claremont Graduate University

Department: Community and Global Health

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