This course is based upon material published in the BMC Pediatrics and is available as an open access article on the biomedcentral website.
Background: Racial/ethnic differences in representation, substance use, and its correlates may be linked to differential long-term health outcomes for justice-involved youth. Determining the nature of these differences is critical to informing more efficacious health prevention and intervention efforts. In this study, we employed a theory-based approach to evaluate the nature of these potential differences. Specifically, we hypothesized that (1) racial/ethnic minority youth would be comparatively overrepresented in the juvenile justice system, (2) the rates of substance use would be different across racial/ethnic groups, and (3) individual-level risk factors would be better predictors of substance use for Caucasian youth than for youth of other racial/ethnic groups.
Methods: To evaluate these hypotheses, we recruited a large, diverse sample of justice-involved youth in the southwest (N = 651; M age = 15.7, SD = 1.05, range = 14-18 years); 66 percent male; 41 percent Hispanic, 24 percent African American, 15 percent Caucasian, 11 percent American Indian/Alaska Native). All youth were queried about their substance use behavior (alcohol, marijuana, tobacco, illicit hard drug use) and individual-level risk factors (school involvement, employment, self-esteem, level of externalizing behaviors).
Results: As predicted, racial/ethnic minority youth were significantly overrepresented in the juvenile justice system. Additionally, Caucasian youth reported the greatest rates of substance use and substance-related individual-level risk factors. In contrast, African American youth showed the lowest rates for substance use and individual risk factors. Contrary to predictions, a racial/ethnic group by risk factor finding emerged for only one risk factor and one substance use category.
Conclusions: This research highlights the importance of more closely examining racial/ethnic differences in justice populations, as there are likely to be differing health needs, and subsequent treatment approaches, by racial/ethnic group for justice-involved youth. Additionally, this study highlights the need for timely, empirically supported (developmentally and cross-culturally) substance abuse interventions for all justice-involved youth.
This course on cross cultural differences in substance use in youth is designed for substance abuse counselors, social workers, psychologists, nurses, and professional counselors who do clinical work. This course is appropriate for beginning, intermediate and advanced level practitioners who wish to develop their understanding of cross cultural differences in substance use in youth. It may also be useful for licensed clinicians who require clinical continuing education courses for license renewal.
The course is based on a journal article which includes research. As such it contains statistical analysis and data which some clinicians enjoy reading and others do not. One of the benefits of reading research based articles for continuing education is that it allows the practitioner to keep current on the latest findings in their field.
Authors: Feldstein Ewing, Venner, Mead and Bryan
Learning Objectives: This course will provide the practitioner with detailed information regarding the ethnic differences in substance use among youth. Specifically, a professional will:
· Describe juvenile justice-involved youth across ethnic and racial groups
· Identify rates of substance use across racial and ethnic groups
· Identify individual level risk factors that are predictors for substance use
Feldstein Ewing, Venner, Mead and Bryan (2011). Exploring racial/ethnic differences in substance use: a preliminary theory-based investigation with juvenile justice-involved youth. BMC Pediatrics 2011, 11:71