Ethnicity and adolescent substance use behaviors: A longitudinal analysis of American Blacks, Haitians, and other Caribbean Blacks

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

First Committee Member

Marvin Dawkins - Committee Chair


Substance use within adolescent populations has been attributed to many different social factors. Family and peer, individual; psycho-social factors, and race/ethnicity have been related to this social phenomenon. This research addressed the prevalence of these behaviors and the effects that ethnicity and other factors have on the use of alcohol, cigarettes and marijuana among an ethnically diverse black sample of adolescent boys.Blacks represent the largest minority group in the United States, and American Blacks constitute the largest proportion of the black population in the United States. Unfortunately, much of the research concerning black adolescents and substance use presents them as a monolithic group. Unlike many other metropolitan areas in the U.S., south Florida has many blacks who are also from the Caribbean islands. These cultural differences make for a unique black population.This research presents data that seek to explain how the influences from these different cultures explain differences in substance use behaviors. American Blacks, Haitians, and other Caribbean Blacks were separated and analyzed as different groups to get a better understanding of what factors are most strongly related to these behaviors.The sample consisted of 1098 students of whom three waves of data were collected between 1990 and 1993. The students filled out questionnaires in their schools in Miami-Dade County. Kaplan's early Derogation theory was used as a framework to explain substance use in this adolescent population. This analysis focused on the uniqueness of each ethnic group in determining which factors were stronger predictors in these analyses. Kaplan's derogation factors (self, parent, and teacher) revealed unique differences and similarities between the three groups when analyzed in bivariate and multi variate analyses. The derogation factors were not as strong predictors of substance use as family/peer factors and socio-cultural factors (cultural mistrust). Even though the derogation factors were strongly correlated to the dependent factors of substance use behaviors (cigarette, alcohol, marijuana), they usually were not significant predictors of these behaviors in the multivariate analyses where the family/peer and sociocultural factors were entered in the regression equations. These findings provide the information necessary to focus on more culturally sensitive factors when studying ethnic differences within the black adolescent population.


American Studies; Black Studies; Economics, Theory; Health Sciences, Public Health; Sociology, Ethnic and Racial Studies

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