Adolescent Health Research

Adolescent Health Evidence Synthesis
Mental Health
Aging & Gerontology Global Health
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Unconditional Government Cash Transfers in Support of Orphaned and Vulnerable Adolescents in Western Kenya: Is there an Association with Psychological Well-being?

Sub-Saharan Africa is home to approximately 53.6 million orphaned children, a majority of whom live in extreme poverty, often with relatives or guardians of limited means, and in households with many other dependent children. Children who live in poor households often do not have access to basic necessities such as shelter, food, clean water, health care, and education. To address poverty and its adverse child health and developmental consequences, economic incentives are increasingly used in African countries.  This study, supported by grants from the NIH Fogarty International Center and the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, and led by Sylvia Shangani, doctoral candidate in behavioral and social health sciences, assessed the association between living in a household that received monthly unconditional government CTs and psychological wellbeing. READ MORE

Parent-adolescent Relationship Factors Have a Larger Influence on Age of Alcohol and Marijuana Onset for Hispanics than for Caucasians

This study, published in Addictive Behaviors, was funded by NIAA grants for which Kristina Jackson, professor of behavioral and social sciences (research), served as principal investigator. It examined whether ethnicity moderated the effect of parental relationships on the onset of alcohol and marijuana use. Study authors hypothesized that protective effects of positive parental relationship factors (for both paternal and maternal figures) would be stronger for Hispanics as compared to Caucasians. They also hypothesized that negative effects of parental relationship factors (for both paternal and maternal figures) would be reduced for Hispanics as compared to Caucasians. READ MORE

The Effects of a Brief, Parent-focused Intervention for Substance Abuse

By the time teens reach the 12th grade, 46.7 percent report having been drunk and 44.7 percent report cannabis use. Youth who initiate alcohol and other drug use early in adolescence are more likely to develop substance abuse diagnoses, and drinking to intoxication is highly associated with high-risk sexual behavior, high deviance, young adult arrests, and low educational attainment. Adolescent alcohol and other drug use can be directly and indirectly influenced by parental modelling, punishment for experimentation, and advice about peer selection. The purpose of this study, published in Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, and led by Drs. Anthony Spirito and Lynn Hernandez, faculty members in the Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies, was to evaluate the efficacy of Family Check-up, a parent-focused brief motivational intervention, in families where parents were concerned about one adolescent’s alcohol or marijuana use and the referred adolescent also had a sibling close in age. READ MORE

Statin Use and the Risk of Diabetes in Children and Adolescents

The prescription of statins, a class of drug commonly used in cholesterol control, is very rare in children and adolescents. However, recent decisions by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute to recommend statins as a first line treatment for hyperlipidemia in children aged 8 or older has intensified the debate over the short- and long-term risk versus benefits of statin use in this population. Recent studies in adults suggests that statin use is associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes between 9% and 28%. However, this association has not yet been explored in children. The purpose of this study, published in Academic Pediatrics and led by Nina Joyce, a recent doctoral graduate from the Department of Epidemiology and current post-doctoral research fellow at Harvard Medical School, was to evaluate the relationship between statin use and type 2 diabetes in children and adolescents. READ MORE

Innovative, Technology-Assisted Intervention for Parents of Adolescents in Substance Abuse Treatment

According to the National Survey of Substance Abuse Treatment Services, there are 3450 residential substance use treatment facilities in the Us and 10.3% of all adolescents who seek treatment for substance use disorder (SUD) will receive treatment in this setting. Adolescents in residential SUD treatment are also at extremely high risk of relapse, with follow-up studies suggesting that 60% of adolescents discharged from residential SUD facilities will relapse within 90 days. Parents have been established as a critical influence on adolescents’ initiation and maintenance of substance abuse, as well as their substance use outcomes and likelihood of relapse following treatment. Two parenting processes that appear to be particularly important protective factors against adolescent SUDs are monitoring and supervision, and communication with the adolescent. However, parents of adolescents with SUDs have traditionally been difficult to engage in behavioral treatments. The purpose of this study, published in Addiction Science & Clinical Practice and led by Sara Becker, Assistant Professor of Behavioral and Social Sciences, was to adapt and evaluate a technology-assisted intervention for parents of adolescents in residential SUD treatment.  READ MORE

Impulsive Personality Traits and Alcohol Use: Does Sleeping Help with Thinking?

Both impulsivity and poor sleep health have been associated with problematic alcohol use among young adults. However, the nature of the association between sleep and impulsivity and their combined impact on alcohol use is unclear; inadequate sleep may compound the negative effect of impulsivity on decision making, leading to greater alcohol use and related consequences among individuals who tend to act impulsively. The purpose of this study, published in Psychology of Addictive Behaviors and led by Mary Beth Miller, Postdoctoral Fellow in the Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies, was to examine the associations between sleep, impulsivity, and alcohol use among young adults in college.  READ MORE

Access to Substance Use Treatment among Young Adults Who Use Prescription Opioids Non-medically

The purpose of this study, published in Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention and Policy and led by Elliot Liebling, Master's of Public Health student, was to assess the correlates of accessing substance use treatment among young adult NMPO users in Rhode Island, a state heavily impacted by NMPO use and opioid overdose. The researchers used data from 200 Rhode Island residents to compare those who had successfully enrolled in a substance use treatment program without ever facing barriers, individuals who had ever attempted to enroll but were unable, and individuals who never attempted to enroll. READ MORE

Are Negative Facebook Experiences Associated with Depressive Symptoms among Young Adults? 

This study, published in the Journal of Adolescent Healthby Samantha Rosenthal, Research Associate in Epidemiology, and colleagues, examined whether negative Facebook experiences were independently associated with depressive symptoms among young adults in a longitudinal family cohort. read more

The Prevalence and Correlates of Substance Use among Youth Living with HIV

HIV infection disproportionately affects young people, with individuals 16-24 years of age demonstrating the highest rates of new HIV infections. Several studies have documented a high prevalence of substance use behaviors among young people living with HIV, which carries a host of general health risks as well as repercussions for those with HIV, including increased condomless sex and suboptimal adherence to antiretroviral therapy. The purpose of this study, published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence and led Kristi Gamarel, Assistant Professor of Behavioral and Social Sciences, was to assess the prevalence of substance use behaviors in a population of 2216 youth living with HIV, and to examine the associations between several substances, sociodemographic and structural factors, comorbid psychological distress, and HIV disease and sexual risk characteristics. READ MORE