Moderating Effects of Perceived Social Benefits on Inhalant Initiation Among American Indian and White Youth

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Abstract

This study examined whether perceived social benefits moderated the relationship between social influence variables (school attachment, peer inhalant use, perceived family caring, and parental monitoring) and stage of inhalant initiation (Study 1) and lifetime inhalant use (Study 2). Participants were 7th to12th grade students attending schools on or near American Indian reservations, with comparisons made between American Indian and White students. A total of 3,498 American Indian and 1,596 White students were surveyed. Differences in mean levels of social influence variables were found across ethnicity and stage of inhalant initiation and lifetime inhalant use. Structural equation models were evaluated to examine variable relationships for the 2 studies. For Study 1, social influence variables did not clearly differentiate early versus later inhalant initiators, and perceived social benefits failed to serve as a moderator. More differences were observed between users and nonusers across measures of social influence (Study 2). Perceived social benefits generally did not moderate the relationships, with 2 exceptions. Low perceived social benefits provided greater protection against the influence of peers on lifetime inhalant use among White students, whereas high perceived social benefits increased risk of peer influence among American Indian students.

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