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Perceived Discrimination and Substance Use among Latino Adolescents

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Objective : To examine perceived discrimination and substance use among Latino high school students.

Methods : Latino 9th graders (N 1332) completed self-report measures of perceived discrimination and substance use behavior.

Results : Perceived discrimination was associated with lifetime use measures of smoking (OR 1.73, P < 0.01), alcohol (OR 1.53, P < 0.01), marijuana (OR 1.70, P < 0.01), and inhalants (OR 1.50, P < 0.05); and past 30 day measures of smoking (OR 2.54, P < 0.01), alcohol (OR 1.63, P < 0.01), marijuana (OR 1.95, P < 0.01), and inhalants (OR 1.64, P < 0.01), and binge drinking (OR 1.84, P < 0.01).

Conclusions : Latino adolescents who have higher perceptions of discrimination are at risk for substance use. Interventions to help Latino adolescents cope with feelings of discrimination may be a useful addition to substance use prevention programs.

Keywords: Latino; adolescent; discrimination; substance use

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1 Doctoral Student, Department of Preventive Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Alhambra CA.

Publication date: November 1, 2009

More about this publication?
  • The American Journal of Health Behavior seeks to improve the quality of life through multidisciplinary health efforts in fostering a better understanding of the multidimensional nature of both individuals and social systems as they relate to health behaviors.

    The Journal aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the impact of personal attributes, personality characteristics, behavior patterns, social structure, and processes on health maintenance, health restoration, and health improvement; to disseminate knowledge of holistic, multidisciplinary approaches to designing and implementing effective health programs; and to showcase health behavior analysis skills that have been proven to affect health improvement and recovery.

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