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Alcohol and Marijuana Use in Pathways of Risk for Sexually Transmitted Infection in White and Black Adolescent Females

NCJ Number
Substance Abuse Volume: 1 Issue: 38 Dated: 2017 Pages: 77-81
Tammy. Chung; Feifei Ye; Alison E. Hipwell; Stephanie D. Stepp; Elizabeth Miller; Sonya Borrero
Date Published
5 pages
This study tested a model in which alcohol and marijuana use serve as mediating factors in the associations between depression and conduct problems with sexual risk behavior (SRB) and sexually transmitted infection (STI) in adolescent females.
The study, called the Pittsburgh Girls Study, is a longitudinal observational study of females who have been followed annually to track the course of mental and physical health conditions. The three oldest cohorts (N = 1750; 56.8 percent Black, 43.2 percent White) provided self-reports of substance use, depression and conduct problems, SRB, and STI at ages 16-18. A path model tested alcohol and marijuana use at age 17 as mechanisms that mediate the associations of depression and conduct problems at age 16 with SRB and STI at age 18. The study found that race was involved in two risk pathways. In one pathway, White females reported greater alcohol use, which was associated with greater SRB. In another pathway, Black females reported earlier sexual onset, which was associated with subsequent SRB. Public-assistance use was independently associated with early sexual onset and STI. SRB, but not substance use, mediated the association of depression and conduct problems with STI. The study concluded that depression and conduct problems may signal risk for SRB and STI in young females, and warrant attention to improve health outcomes. (Publisher abstract modified)