Reducing Substance Use Among African American Adolescents: Effectiveness of School-Based Health Centers

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This paper explores the impact of school-based heath centers (SBHCs) on the substance use behaviors of low-income, inner-city African American adolescents. Researchers surveyed 2,114 9th- and 11th-grade students from seven inner-city public high schools (three with SBHCs and four without SBHCs). Of the initial 2,114 students, 598 SBHC students and 598 non-SBHC students were successfully matched using ethnicity, grade, gender, and propensity scores. The results of separate grade × gender × SBHC ANOVAs indicated significant grade × SBHC interactions (i.e., such that substance use decreased in SBHC schools while increasing in non-SBHC schools) for cigarettes (p=.05) and marijuana (p <.001), but not for alcohol. These findings show that the SBHC intervention model is promising toward the prevention and reduction of substance use among high-risk African American adolescents and highlight the importance of accessible, holistic, and culturally appropriate health care.

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