Adolescent alcohol, tobacco, and other drug (ATOD) use rates are higher for Latino middle school youth than other ethnic groups. Although several programs have been developed to address Latino ATOD use, they rely on bilingual professionals with a Master's degree or higher to field the program. Latino families are increasingly migrating from traditional enclaves such as, CA, TX, and AZ to new settlement areas that lack bilingual mental health professionals equipped to provide appropriate prevention or treatment. This suggests that health disparities will widen without novel and effective ATOD use interventions targeting young Latino adolescents. Unidos Se Puede (United We Can)
is a culturally responsive family-based intervention developed for use with Latino immigrant parents and their adolescent children to address adolescent high risk behaviors such as ATOD use, and school dropout by increasing parental involvement (e.g., parental monitoring), youth personal agency (e.g., self-efficacy), and positive peer affiliations, and can be delivered by community-based health worker "promotoras" rather than masters level clinicians. This poster reports on the efficacy of Unidos
to delay initiation into ATOD use for nonusers or decrease ATOD use for users among a sample of Latino youth in new settlement areas.
A sample of 140 Latino 8th grade students (46% female) and their parents (N=280) was followed over four years. The study used an interrupted time series design and collected 6 waves of data, such that waves 1 and 2 are baseline, wave 3 is immediately after the initial intervention, and waves 4, 5, and 6 correspond to the end of 8th, 9th, and 10th grades respectively.
A piece-wise latent growth model found an almost universal lack of change over from 8th to 10th grade, with the only exception being a slight increase in alcohol use over time for those who were already using. However, the probability of use does not increase over the same period suggesting that Unidos delayed the initiation of use for 8th grade non-users. Smoking and the use of other drugs showed no change in either probability of use or frequency of use for users. This is compared to a sample of Latino youth from the NLSY97 that showed continuing increases over time in both probability of use and frequency of use.
In conclusion, Unidos Se Puede is an innovative and effective deterrent to ATOD use among Latino youth that holds potential to be scaled up because of its use of “promotoras” rather than Master’s level clinicians.