Normalisation theory: Does it accurately describe temporal changes in adolescent drunkenness and smoking?

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Abstract

Introduction and Aims.

The multiple risk model postulates that accumulating risk factors increase adolescent drunkenness and smoking. The normalisation theory adds to this by arguing that the relation between accumulative risk and drunkenness and smoking is dependent on the distribution of these behaviours in the larger population. More concretely, normalisation theory predicts that: (i) when population level use increases, low risk adolescents will be more likely to use alcohol and cigarettes; and (ii) adolescents facing multiple risk factors will be equally likely to use alcohol and cigarettes, regardless of trends in population level use. The current study empirically tests these assumptions on five waves of nationally representative samples of Israeli Jewish youth.

Design and Methods.

Five cross-sectional waves of data from the Israeli Health Behaviour in School-aged Children survey for Jewish 10th graders were used. Logistic regression models measured the impact of changes in population level use across waves on drunkenness and smoking, and their association with differing levels of risk factors.

Results.

Between zero and two risk factors, the risk of drunkenness and smoking increases for each additional risk factor. When reaching two risk factors, added risk does not significantly increase the likelihood of smoking and drunkenness. Changes in population level drunkenness and smoking did not systematically relate to changes in the individual level relationship between risk factors and smoking and drunkenness.

Discussion and Conclusions.

The pattern of results in this study provides strong evidence for the multiple risk factor model and inconsistent evidence for the normalisation theory. [Sznitman SR, Zlotnick C, Harel-Fisch Y. Normalisation theory: Does it accurately describe temporal changes in adolescent drunkenness and smoking? Drug Alcohol Rev 2016;35:424–432]

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