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Psychol Rep. 2002 Aug;91(1):105-13.

Sociodemographic factors, religiosity, academic performance, and substance use among first-year university students in South Africa.

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Health Behaviour Research Unit, University of the North, Sovenga, South Africa.


The purpose of this study was to identify the relationships among sociodemographic variables, family background, religiosity, course of study, academic performance, and substance use. The sample included 799 first-year students in the age range of 16 to 49 years (M age 20.1 yr., SD = 3.2) chosen at random from the University of the North in South Africa. A Model Core Questionnaire from the WHO on Substance use was administered. Analysis indicated that women smoked tobacco or cannabis and drank less than men, while women took more stimulants and other opiate type drugs than men. Low scores on religiosity was a predictor for past-month tobacco use alcohol use, binge drinking, cannabis use, and having a drinking or drug problem now. Being a member of a Protestant denominational church or a Roman Catholic was a predictor for past-month tobacco and alcohol use. A family history of drinking or drug problems and being a social science or humanities student were predictive for a current alcohol or drug problem. Economic status, education of parents. living arrangement. and rural-urban differences were not associated with substance use. Findings have implications for prevention programmes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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