Treatment attrition among racial/ethnic minority adolescents participating in a brief motivational intervention for substance use problems : the influence of individual, social, cultural, and treatment factors

Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Social Welfare

First Advisor's Name

Eric Wagner

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Andres Gil

Third Advisor's Name

Mark Macgowan

Fourth Advisor's Name

Jonathan Tubman

Date of Defense



The present study has the primary aim of examining the predictors of treatment attrition among racial/ethnic minority adolescents with substance use problems. This study explores the potential differential influence of specific individual, social, cultural, and treatment factors on treatment attrition within three racial/ethnic subgroups of adolescents. Participants: A unique feature of the study is the use of a racial/ethnic minority sample (N=453), [U.S.-born Hispanics (n = 262), Foreign-born Hispanics (n = 117), and African- Americans (n = 74)]. Multivariate logit analyses were used to examine the influence of specific factors on treatment attrition among the full sample of adolescents, as well as within each racial/ethnic subgroup. Consistent with expectations, multivariate logit analyses reveal that, the specific factors associated with attrition varied across the three racial/ethnic subgroups. Having parents with problem substance use, being on the waitlist, and being court mandated to treatment emerged as predictors of attrition among the US-born Hispanics, while only Conduct Disorder was significantly associated with greater attrition among foreign-born Hispanics. Finally, among African-Americans, parental crack/cocaine use, parental abstinence from alcohol, and being on the waitlist were predictive of attrition. Multiple factors were associated with treatment attrition among racial/ethnic minority adolescents with specific factors differentially predicting attrition within each racial/ethnic subgroup. African-American youth were more than twice as likely as their Hispanic counterparts to leave treatment prematurely. It is critically important to understand the predictors of attrition among racial/ethnic minority youth in order to better meet the needs of youth most at risk of dropping out.



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