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Sunday, June 3, 2012

School Bonding As a Moderator of the Effect of Peer Influences on Alcohol Use Among American Indian Adolescents

Previous research suggests that substance use among American Indian youth is associated with disproportionate rates of morbidity and substance misuse. Additional work to understand risk and protective factors for alcohol use is needed. The current study examined the role of school bonding in buffering the effect of peer alcohol use on a student's own alcohol use among American Indian adolescents.

The present study is part of a larger examination of alcohol use among American Indian youth. Survey data were collected from middle and high school students during the 2009–2010 and 2010–2011 school years from 37 school districts in the United States. The sample consisted of 2,582 students ages 11–19 years: 1,606 were younger than 16, and 976 were age 16 or older. All students self-identified as American Indian or Alaskan Native. The sample was approximately equally divided by gender (49% male).

For all students, peer alcohol use was a risk factor for (a) lifetime alcohol use and (b) level of alcohol use among users. School bonding was associated with a lower likelihood of lifetime alcohol use for adolescents younger than age 16 and a lower level of use among users for all adolescents. School bonding emerged as a protective factor that buffers against peer alcohol use among adolescent alcohol users younger than 16.

Results of the study demonstrate the influence of exposure to alcohol-using peers and the protective role of school bonding on alcohol use among American Indian adolescents. Implications for prevention are discussed.

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