What accounts for differences in substance use among U.S.-born and immigrant Hispanic adolescents?: results from a longitudinal prospective cohort study

J Adolesc Health. 2009 Aug;45(2):118-25. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2008.12.011. Epub 2009 Feb 24.


Purpose: The current study was conducted to ascertain whether the effects of nativity (i.e., U.S. born vs. immigrant) on Hispanic adolescent substance use is mediated by ecological processes such as family functioning, school connectedness, and perceived peer substance use.

Methods: The effects of family, peer, and school processes on adolescent substance use were examined in a nationally representative sample of 742 (358 male, 384 female) Hispanic youth (mean age = 15.9; SD = 1.8).

Results: Results from a structural equation model indicated that the higher rates of substance use among U.S.-born Hispanics (compared with foreign-born Hispanics) are partially mediated by perceived peer substance use (as measured by the adolescent). The results also showed that perceived peer substance use and school connectedness mediate the relationship between family processes and substance use, suggesting that family processes may offset some of the deleterious effects of negative peer selection on adolescent substance use.

Conclusion: These findings imply that public health behavioral interventions to prevent substance use among both U.S.-born and foreign-born Hispanics may need to attend to multiple ecological processes, including family, school, and peers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Emigrants and Immigrants*
  • Family Relations
  • Female
  • Hispanic or Latino*
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies
  • Public Health
  • Substance-Related Disorders / etiology*
  • United States