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J Drug Educ. 2007;37(3):335-63.

The moderating effects of culture on peer deviance and alcohol use among high-risk African-American Adolescents.

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  • 1Center for Preventive Health Research on Children and Adolescents, Department of Psychology, Virginia State University, Petersburg 23806, USA. anasim@vsu.edu


African-American adolescents have lower rates of alcohol consumption than White youth. However, African-American youth suffer disproportionately more adverse social, mental, and physical health outcomes related to alcohol use. Affiliating with negative peers is a risk factor for alcohol initiation and consumption. Cultural variables have shown moderating effects against other risk factors for African-American youth and therefore were the focus of this study. Specifically, we tested whether three culturally-relevant variables, Africentric beliefs, religiosity, and ethnic identity were promotive or protective for alcohol initiation and use within the context of negative peer affiliations. The sample consisted of 114 at-risk African-American adolescents whose ages ranged from 13 to 20. Participants were administered a questionnaire with measures of alcohol initiation and use, peer risk behaviors, ethnic identity, Africentric beliefs, religiosity, and demographic items. Peer risk behaviors accounted for significant percentages of the variance in age of alcohol initiation, lifetime use, and current and heavy alcohol use after adjusting for age and gender. Cultural variables showed both promotive and protective effects. Africentric beliefs were promotive of delayed alcohol initiation, whereas both Africentrism and religiosity moderated peer risk behaviors effect on alcohol initiation. Africentric beliefs were also inversely related to lifetime alcohol use revealing a promotive effect. Moreover, there were significant protective effects of ethnic identity and religiosity on heavy alcohol consumption. One implication of these findings is that prevention programs that infuse cultural values and practices such as Africentrism, ethnic identity, and religiosity may delay alcohol initiation and reduce use especially for youth with high risk peers.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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