186851 Youth media exposure and substance initiation and use

Wednesday, October 29, 2008: 1:42 PM

Leslie B. Snyder, PhD , Center for Health Communication & Marketing, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT
P. Gayle Nadorff , Center for Health Communication and Marketing, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT
The relationship between media messages about substances and substance use among children, teens, and young adults remains an on-going concern for researchers and policy-makers. Unfortunately, the literature is largely fragmented across substances and media channels. We therefore conducted a review of the empirical studies relating media exposure and youth alcohol, tobacco, prescription drug, over-the-counter drug, and illicit drug initiation and use. There is strong, consistent evidence that exposure to alcohol and tobacco media and marketing increases the likelihood that youth will initiate substance use. There is also some evidence linking media exposure on continued and escalating levels of substance use, although the evidence is not as strong as that for initiation. Furthermore, the evidence seems to suggest that visual entertainment formats like pro-drug messages in movies and promotional items are at least as strong as advertising in their ability to influence youth. The few studies that have investigated the effects of pro-substance messages on use by over-the-counter, prescription, and illicit drugs use find some effects. In light of recent concern about increases in youth abuse, studies are especially needed on the media's effect on youth abuse of prescription and over-the-counter drugs. Studies are also needed on entertainment and alternative media's role in promoting and preventing illicit drug use. By understanding the behavioral effects of pro and anti-substance messages across media channels the public health community will be better equipped to alter media policies, counter pro-substance messages, and develop more effective campaigns.

Learning Objectives:
1. Participants will understand the evidence base linking youth media exposure to use of different types of substances. 2. Participants will appreciate the areas in which more research is needed. 3. Participants will gain a sense of the types of strategies that could be taken to counter pro-substance media messages more effectively.

Keywords: Media Message, Substance Abuse

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Not Answered