Methods: To achieve that aim 78 Black youth (mean age 15.32) living in a disadvantaged neighborhood were recruited to participate in a study that used ecological momentary assessment, or the use of repeated surveys over time, to assess life as it is lived. In our study participants were given cell phones and asked to complete three brief surveys a day for a month about their level of stress and perceptions of spaces. Surveys were triggered by geolocations identified by the studies youth research advisory board and supplemented with random prompts. In total, 1014 surveys were completed in the target neighborhoods and 80 activity spaces were identified using a k-mean cluster analysis of submission locations. Participants were also asked to complete one survey end of each day about their substance use during that day. Cross classified growth curve models in a multi-level modeling framework were estimated to test the studies hypotheses.
Results: In our study youth reported using marijuana 9.43% of days, with 27% of all participants reporting some marijuana use in the one month study period. A significant growth curve of marijuana use amount over the month was found (B(SE)=.01 (.01), p<.05) with a negative quadratic shape (B(SE)=-.00(.00), p<.01). No direct relationship was found between feeling nervous in a space and marijuana use however a significant interaction was found between feeling nervous and perceptions of collective efficacy in a space and marijuana use (B(SE) =.04(.01), p<.01). If a participant experienced an average or below average level of nervousness more collective efficacy was related to less marijuana use. If, however, they reported a high levels of nervousness in a space, high levels of collective efficacy was associated with more marijuana use.
Conclusions: Result indicate that an adolescents perceptions of collective efficacy in a space may buffer against substance use only if it is coupled with low levels of nervous. This suggest that collective efficacy may not always act to reduce stress but may in some situation increase it if youth feel monitored. Implications for interventions designed to prevent marijuana use among Black youth will be discussed.