The Influence of Opportunity to Use Alcohol, Attitudes, Social and School Skills On Alcohol Use in Hispanic and Non-Hispanic Youth
An important goal of Healthy People 2010 was the prevention of youth substance use by providing evidenced-based research-proven programs for diverse racial and ethnic populations. Many prevention programs are not culturally sensitive and focus on avoidance tactics to limit opportunities for youth to use alcohol, increasing a youth’s understanding of the risks involved in drinking, and decreasing favorable attitudes towards drinking. A review of the key elements of evidenced-based programs in the SAMHSA’s registry indicate that many prevention strategies build skills of youth to have increased social skills, and school success skills to decrease alcohol use. Given the differences in alcohol use, and possible differing intervention strategies between Hispanic and non-Hispanic youth, this study aims to analyze contributing factors to alcohol use for these two groups.
This study utilizes data from the Evaluating Mutual Aid Groups Project an intervention project aimed at lowering substance use and increasing group engagement, conducted in the Bronx, New York. A community agency providing social work services in high schools were the point of contact for recruiting study participants. For the purposes of this study only measures given at baseline (September –October 2011) are utilized. A total of 201 high school students participated.
The sample consisted of 201 adolescents, about half were female (53%), half Hispanic (50%), with a mean age of 15.41 years. Standard multiple regression with comparisons of the model was used to examine the impact of risk factors related to alcohol use (opportunity, risk, and attitudes) and protective factors (social and school) on drinking alcohol behaviors in Hispanic and non-Hispanic youth. The total variance explained by the model for non-Hispanic youth was 45.4%, F(5,92)=15.30, p<.001. Three independent variables contributed significantly to alcohol use for non-Hispanic youth; opportunity to drink (β =.382, p=.001), favorable attitude towards drinking (β=.247, p=.010) and social helping skills (β=.295, p=.001). The total variance explained by the model for Hispanic youth was 25.2%, F(5,92)=6.193, p<.001. Two independent variables contributed significantly to alcohol use for Hispanic youth; opportunity to drink (β =.406, p=.001), and managing school (β=.194, p=.044). Comparison of the fit of the model for the non-Hispanic and Hispanic youth using the Fisher’s Z test revealed that there was a significant difference between the respective R2 values, Z=1.86, p<.05. To compare the structure or weights of the model, the Hotelling’s t-test t=-2.17, p<.05, indicated that there are structural differences between the multiple regression models.
There are many recent appeals arguing for adaptations to prevention programs that ﬁt local needs and are culturally situated and contextualized. This study recognizes the unique needs for high school students of Hispanics and non-Hispanic ethnicities all residing in the same school. Prevention programs could benefit from these findings by focusing on limiting situational opportunities to use alcohol for both Hispanic and non-Hispanic youth. For Non-Hispanic and Hispanic youth there should be less emphasis on how risky drinking can be and instead focus on the moral implications or “wrongness” of drinking, particularly for the non-Hispanic youth.