Longitudinal Effects of Peer, School, and Parenting Contexts on Substance Use Initiation in Middle Adolescence

Barry Ladis, Florida International University


Substance use initiation (SUI) among adolescents is a critical public health concern. Research indicates SUI in middle adolescence increases the risk of substance use in adulthood and later dependence, which can result in deleterious consequences for youth, family relationships, and community (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, [SAMSHA], 2014). This study investigated the role of involvement with deviant peers, school connectedness, and parenting quality on SUI (e.g., alcohol, cigarettes, and marijuana) in middle adolescence using secondary data from a 5-year longitudinal study (N = 387). First, exploratory factor analyses and confirmatory factor analyses with a separate independent sample were conducted to develop a measure of parenting quality. Second, moderated mediation was tested using PROCESS (Hayes, 2013) with each parenting quality factor as a moderator of two mediation pathways (involvement with deviant peers and school connectedness) on three SUI outcomes. Results from the exploratory factor and confirmatory factor analyses were consistent and provided evidence for a three-factor solution for parenting quality: Parental Knowledge and Affective Relationships, Parental Control, and Parental Communication and Involvement. Results from the moderated mediation analyses did not support parenting quality factors as moderators for either mediation model. Involvement with deviant peers (Wave 3) mediated the relation between school connectedness (Wave 2) and each of the three substances (Wave 5) across all levels of parenting quality (e.g., bias-corrected bootstrap confidence intervals = -.50 – -.18 at low, -.47 – -.19 at average, and -.50 – -.16 at high levels of Parental Knowledge and Affective Relationships for alcohol use initiation). More specifically, low school connectedness predicted higher involvement with deviant peers, which, in turn, predicted a higher likelihood of SUI. School connectedness was not a significant mediator in the relationship between involvement with deviant peers and SUI. Although parenting quality factors did not moderate either of the mediation pathways, development of a comprehensive and psychometrically valid measure may aid in identifying specific parenting problem areas necessary for preventive intervention planning. Additionally, supporting adolescents who lack strong connections within the school may help prevent involvement with deviant peers and SUI.

Subject Area

Social work|Developmental psychology|Psychology

Recommended Citation

Ladis, Barry, "Longitudinal Effects of Peer, School, and Parenting Contexts on Substance Use Initiation in Middle Adolescence" (2018). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI10976711.