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Ethnic/Racial Differences in Peer and Parent Influence on Adolescent Prescription Drug Misuse

Conn, Bridgid M. MA; Marks, Amy K. PhD

Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics: May 2014 - Volume 35 - Issue 4 - p 257–265
doi: 10.1097/DBP.0000000000000058
Original Article

Purpose: To describe ethnic/racial group differences in prescription drug misuse within a nationally representative sample of US adolescents. Also to identify potential sociocultural influences on this health risk behavior.

Methods: A secondary data analysis was conducted on the public-use data of the 2010 National Survey of Drug Use and Health using the records of 12- to 17-year-old African American, Hispanic, and white participants (N = 18,614). Logistic and Poisson regression analyses focused on examining the predictive role of perceived parental and peer substance use disapproval on adolescents' prescription drug misuse and how these social influences varied by ethnic group.

Results: Within this sample, 10.4% of adolescents endorsed misusing 1 or more subtypes of prescription drugs. The results showed significant ethnic group differences in rates of prescription drug misuse such that white adolescents reported the highest rates and African American adolescents reported the lowest rates of prescription drug misuse. Rates of misuse for Hispanic adolescents fell in between. Importantly, perceived parental and peer substance use disapproval decreased the likelihood of prescription drug misuse most significantly among white adolescents compared to Hispanic and African American adolescents. Furthermore, influence of disapproval differed by the type of substance, indicating ethnic group differences in disapproval, such as views of alcohol versus marijuana use.

Conclusions: These findings provide new ethnic group–specific information about the role that the attitudes of peers and parents on substance use may play in whether adolescents misuse prescription drugs. Future studies should explore possible parent/peer-related socialization mechanisms, which may account for these ethnic group differences.

Department of Psychology, Suffolk University, Boston, MA.

Address for reprints: Amy K. Marks, PhD, Department of Psychology, Suffolk University, 41 Temple St, Boston, MA 02114; e-mail:

This study is based on secondary data analyses conducted as part of a doctoral dissertation.

Presented as a poster in the 2013 Society for Child Development Conference in Seattle, Washington, April 2013.

A. K. Marks received grants from the Jacobs Foundation. B. M. Conn received funding from the American Psychological Association to attend the annual APA conference and Psychology Summer Institute. B. M. Conn is employed in the Primary Children's Hospital and received payment for lectures from the Suffolk University.

Disclosure: The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Received November , 2013

Accepted January , 2014

© 2014 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins