The Relationship Between Protective Factors and Consequences of Substance Use: Ethnic, Socioeconomic, and Gender Disparities in Exposure and Protection

Vilsaint, Corrie L., Department of Psychology, University of Virginia
Wilson, Melvin, Department of Psychology, University of Virginia
Reppucci, Dick, Department of Psychology, University of Virginia
Schmidt, Karen, Department of Psychology, University of Virginia

Although Caucasian American youth are more likely to use substantially higher or sometimes equivalent levels of alcohol and drugs, African American youth report more health and social substance-related consequences (Johnston, O'Malley, Bachman, & Schulenberg, 2007; Jones-Webb, Hsiao, Hannan & Caetano, 1997; Herd, 1989; US Dept of Health and Human Services, 1995; Wallace, 1999). Broadly, this study examines the relationship between 13 protective factors and 2 consequences of substance use. We inquired into whether exposure to protective factors was distributed equally across contexts of ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and gender. Next, we determine if the protective factors equally protect youth from social and health consequences of substance use. Last, item response theory was used to detect items that show differential item functioning between groups, drop the items, and reanalyze the tests of protection. Equivalent exposure to protective factors did not always equal equivalent protection from consequences of substance use, socioeconomic status showed the most disparities. Following the reanalysis, a total of eight disparities in protection were an artifact of DIF and 16 disparities in protection remained. Participants included 585 youth in their 11 th and 12 th grade year, a caregiver, and a peer recruited from three public schools in a metropolitan area. Theoretical and prevention implications are discussed. Future research should consider social mechanisms that buffer or exacerbate consequences between four represented groups: low SES minorities, high SES minorities, low SES non-minorities, and high SES non-minorities.

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PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
youth, drugs, alcohol
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