Understanding Differences in Rural and Urban Adolescent and Young Adult Substance Use

Research center:
Lead researcher:
Project funded:
September 2017
Anticipated completion date:
March 2019

Early results from the 2016 Monitoring the Future annual survey show a continued long-term decline in adolescent substance use across marijuana, alcohol, tobacco, and misuse of some prescription medications. However, it is unclear whether these changes have also taken place among rural adolescents and young adults who have historically shown higher alcohol and drug use rates than their urban counterparts. The project’s purposes are to (1) establish a current prevalence of rural-urban adolescent and young adult substance use and (2) understand the influence of protective and risk factors in predicting substance use for rural and urban adolescents. Using data from the 2010-15 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, we will employ a combination of bivariate and multivariate techniques to assess substance use prevalence and to identify protective and risk factors. At the bivariate level, we will use chi-square tests to compare the rural-urban prevalence of substance use and differences on covariates among rural and urban populations. At the multivariate level, we will conduct logistic regression analyses to understand whether rural-urban differences in prevalence may be explained by socio-demographic characteristics, and whether risk and protective factors differ for rural and urban adolescents and young adults.