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John E. Schulenberg photo

Building on Bridging the Gap: Environmental Influences on Teen Substance Use

a PSC Research Project

Investigator:   John E. Schulenberg

With deficits and other economic issues facing the federal and many state and local governments, reductions in aid at all levels of social organization (i.e., school, community, and state) have occurred and are expected to continue. Initiatives that focus on preventing and treating adolescent substance use behaviors are typically prime candidates for spending cuts, which makes research on their effectiveness especially timely. We have outlined a set of analyses that will provide critical guidance for evidence-based efforts to curb adolescent substance use behaviors and close gaps in understanding the effectiveness of key environmental strategies for reducing adolescent substance use. This proposal will provide an in-depth investigation of the processes through which school-based and state-level penalties for adolescent substance use behaviors reduce the substance use behaviors they target. We will further account for community-level exposure to anti-tobacco/drug media campaigns that are designed to also influence adolescent substance use behaviors. Specifically, in Aim #1 we will assess the effectiveness of school-based penalties for adolescent substance use behaviors (i.e., for tobacco, alcohol, and marijuana we will examine current use, excessive use, school use) across a large number of: a) schools (n= ~130 schools every 2 years), b) 12th grade students (n = ~11,800 students/year), and c) data-points (11 years of data: 1997-2007). In Aim #2 we will investigate the effectiveness of state-level penalties towards adolescent substance use behaviors (i.e., legal penalties for: a) adolescent use of tobacco, b) underage alcohol violations, and c) marijuana possession) and their relationship with complementary school-based penalties (perceived and actual). In Aim #3, we will examine the effectiveness of community-level and student report of exposure to anti-tobacco/drug media campaigns and their interrelationships with complementary policies identified in Aims #1 and #2. Our findings will better enable stakeholders to set substance use prevention policy priorities at school, community, and state levels. These activities will become increasingly important as lawmakers in our nation work to fund only effective substance use prevention programs. In addition, the work proposed here will make cost-efficient use of existing, integrated data. Accomplishment of these aims will be facilitated by a strong-interdisciplinary research team and a rich collaborative environment.

Funding Period: 08/01/2012 to 07/31/2017

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