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Exposure to Risky Environments and Adolescent Substance Use Initiation and Continuation

Authors: Alan Delmerico*, Institute for Community Health Promotion, William Wieczorek, Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation
Topics: Medical and Health Geography, Urban Geography, Geography and Urban Health
Keywords: substance use, activity space, violence, victimization
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Adolescents are exposed to a wide variety of environmentally-mediated and -moderated influences that can affect their health and behaviors. Neighborhood risk and protective factors measured in small geographic areas (e.g. Census units) have demonstrated effects on violence and substance use behaviors. However, geographic exposures to risky behaviors can be more precisely measured by assessing adolescent activity space compared to home address or neighborhood. This work is part of a broader, longitudinal study (Developmental Pathways of Violence and Substance Use in a High Risk Sample, 5R01DA041231-05) with the current waves examining early and late adolescence follow-up of a sample of mother-infant dyads recruited at birth, with a research focus on the association between risk factors and weapon carrying, victimization, and substance use later in life. In partnership with the UB Research Institute on Addictions (RIA), the Center for Health and Social Research developed geospatial analysis tools to better understand the spatial outcomes of this population as they age into early adolescence. The interactive web-based GIS data collection system captures data on their routine activity space along with survey responses about each location, including exposure to violence, drug-related activity and other crime, perceptions of safety, frequency of visit and time of day at each location for a typical weekday and weekend. These analyses will focus on the assessment of substance use initiation and behaviors between early and late adolescence and associated exposures to risky environments across their activity space.

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