Abstract: Ethnic Identity Measures and Relationships to Substance Use (Society for Prevention Research 27th Annual Meeting)

596 Ethnic Identity Measures and Relationships to Substance Use

Friday, May 31, 2019
Seacliff A (Hyatt Regency San Francisco)
* noted as presenting author
Meghan Crabtree, PhD, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO
Randall Craig Swaim, PhD, Senior Research Scientist, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO
Linda Stanley, PhD, Research Scientist, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO
Introduction. Is a strong sense of cultural identification and ethnic pride protective against substance use (SU) among American Indian (AI) youth? Despite calls for interventions that leverage cultural identification to reduce SU among AI youth, prior works examining the protective qualities of cultural identification have evinced mixed results. Two reasons for these inconsistencies stand out: use of limited community or regional tribal samples, and a lack of culturally-valid and reliable measures of AI identity-relevant variables. This study addresses both limitations by fitting models of cultural identification, ethnic pride and perceived discrimination to SU data derived from a national sample of AI youth, and investigating their relationships to alcohol and cannabis use.

Methods: 3,635 AI students attending 37 schools located on or near reservations distributed across six U.S. continental regions were administered surveys during the 2015-2017 school years (52% female, Mage=14.8). Identity-relevant SU predictors were modeled as latent factors, which included cultural identification with AI and non-AI way of life (WOL) and traditional activities (TA), social and affective ethnic pride (SEP and AEP), and perceived peer discrimination (PPD). Observed SU outcomes included students’ lifetime and 30 day alcohol use, alcohol intoxication and cannabis use. After confirming adequate fit of the measurement model using confirmatory factor analysis (CFA), two separate Structural Equation Models (SEM) were fit to ascertain the pattern of associations between identity–relevant predictors and lifetime/30-day SU among AI youth.

Results: The CFA indicated good fit for the measurement model of identity-relevant predictors. Likewise, the final SEMs predicting lifetime and 30 day use both demonstrated good fit to the data. Unsurprisingly, PPD was a risk-factor for both 30-day and lifetime alcohol use and intoxication, as well as cannabis use. Interestingly, AI-WOL was protective against lifetime alcohol and cannabis use, while AI-TA was a risk factor for both lifetime and 30-day cannabis use. Neither SEP nor AEP were significantly associated with lifetime use of any substance; however, AEP was negatively related to 30 day alcohol intoxication and cannabis use.

Conclusion: Our results underscore the complexity inherent in the relationship between AI cultural identification, ethnic pride and SU among AI youth, particularly in the case of cannabis use. Future research should focus on how identification with AI way of life, which may reflect a more values-oriented dimension that is inconsistent with SU, differs from identification with AI traditional activities in understanding how cultural identification relates to risk of substance use among AI youth.