247170 Peer influence and drug initiation among middle and high school students in midwestern United States

Monday, October 31, 2011

Guang-Hwa Chang, PhD , Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Youngstown State University, Youngstown, OH
Kele Ding, PhD , Adult, Counseling, Health, and Vocational Education (ACHVE), Kent State University, Kent, OH
Salvatore Sanders , Department of Health Professions, Youngstown State University, Youngstown, OH
Thomas Albani , Department of Health Professions, Youngstown State University, Boardman, OH
Alyssa Krumpak , Department of Mathematics & Statistics, Youngstown State University Youngstown, Youngstown, OH
Peer influence has been cited as a major cause of teen drug use. This study intended to investigate how teenagers initiated their drug use with a focus on peer presence and influence. For those who never used drugs their approaches of rejecting peer influence of drug use were also investigated. A convenient sample of 393 students from three high schools in the Midwestern United States was surveyed in 2010. Data were collected in classroom setting by using a self-developed self-administered questionnaire. The cross-sectional survey was anonymous and conducted with the permissions of institutional research board, participating school authorities, and parental consent. Data were analyzed by using PASW software. Of the 197 students or 50.8% of the total who had ever used cigarettes, alcohol, marijuana, and other illicit drugs, 82% reported their first time drug use was accompanied by someone they knew, and 40% admitted that the initiation was due to peers' influence, usually from a friend. Interestingly, 80% of those who used drugs did not think that they had pressed someone to use drugs. For those who did not use drugs (n=191), 69 or 36% reported being ever offered drugs, mostly alcohol, cigarettes and marijuana. When asked how they turned down the offer, “just say no”and “ignore the offer” were two most cited approaches. Statistical significance tests were further conducted to compare gender, race, and grade levels upon drug use and peer influence variables. Limitations and implications of the study will be discussed.

Learning Areas:
Advocacy for health and health education
Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Public health or related education
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
1. understanding the role of peer influence in drug use and drug initiation 2. understanding the prevalence of peer influenced drug initiation 3. discussing possible implications and education and prevention strategies

Keywords: Adolescent Health, Drug Use

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a faculty of the Consortium of Eastern Ohio Master of Public Health (CEOMPH) program, and have publications and grants on public health related research. I had presented research papers in APHA conference in the past. In 2009, I published a paper in the Journal of Drug Education. The abstract that I have submitted is a continuation of the paper. I am currently the Biostatistics core course director for the CEOMPH program.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.