Prevention Science

, Volume 11, Issue 2, pp 185–196 | Cite as

Profiles of Protection from Substance Use among Adolescents

  • Amy K. Syvertsen
  • Michael J. Cleveland
  • Jochebed G. Gayles
  • Melissa K. Tibbits
  • Monique T. Faulk


The purpose of this study was to explore whether adolescents (N = 10,287) could be classified into homogeneous subgroups based on their protective factors and, if so, whether these constellations of protection differentially relate to adolescents’ lifetime and 30-day alcohol and tobacco use. Latent class analysis with eight protective factors—four internal and four external—were used to identify the underlying latent class structure. Five profiles of protection emerged: Adequate Protection (54%), Adequate External Protection (9%), Adequate Protection with Low Adult Communication (16%), Adequate Protection with Risky Friends (9%), and Inadequate Protection (12%). Lifetime alcohol use was associated with only a modest increase in odds of belonging to the Adequate External or Low Adult Communication latent classes, but an enormous increase in odds of having Inadequate Protection or Risky Friends. Similar effects were found for past month alcohol use. Unlike alcohol use, which was related most strongly with membership in the Risky Friends latent class (relative to Adequate Protection), cigarette use was most strongly related to membership in the Inadequate Protection latent class. Findings can be used to inform prevention programs as they illustrate the relationships that exist between adolescents’ profiles of protection and substance use.


Adolescents Protective factors Substance use 



An earlier version of this paper was presented at the Society for Prevention Research conference (2008, May) in San Francisco, CA as part of the Sloboda and Bukoski SPR Cup Competition (Eddy & Martinez 2008). The authors’ time was supported by NIDA training grants T32 DA017629, F31 DA024535, and F31 DA024916-01 and NIDA Center Grant P50 DA100075 to The Methodology Center at The Pennsylvania State University. The contents of the article are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

The authors would like to thank Stephanie Lanza, PhD and Mark Greenberg, PhD for their valuable and constructive comments on earlier drafts of the manuscript.


  1. Aaron, D.J., Dearwater, S.R., Anderson, R., Olsen, T., Kriska, A.M., & Laporte, R.E. (1995). Physical activity and the initiation of high-risk health behaviors in adolescents. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 27, 1639–1645.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Akaike, H. (1974). A new look at the statistical model identification. IEEE Transactions on Automatic Control, 19, 716–723.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bandura, A. (1977). Social learning theory. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
  4. Beam, M.R., Chen, C., & Greenberger, E. (2002). The nature of adolescents’ relationships with their “very important” nonparental adults. American Journal of Community Psychology, 30, 305–325.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Benson, P.L., Mannes, M., Pittman, K., & Ferber, T. (2004). Youth development, developmental assets, and public policy. In R. M. Lerner & L. Steinberg (Eds.), Handbook of adolescent psychology (pp. 781–814, 2nd ed.). New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  6. Bergman, L.R., & Magnusson, D. (1997). A person-oriented approach in research on developmental psychopathology. Development and Psychopathology, 9, 291–319.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Bergman, L.R., Magnusson, D., & El-Khouri, B.M. (2003). Studying individual development in an interindividual context: A person-oriented approach. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  8. Biglan, A., Duncan, T.E., Ary, D.V., & Smolkowski, K. (1995). Peer and parental influences on adolescent tobacco use. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 18, 315–330.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Carroll, A., Durkin, K., Hattie, J., & Houghton, S. (1997). Goal setting among adolescents: A comparison of delinquent, at-risk, and not-at-risk youth. Journal of Educational Psychology, 89, 441–450.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Catalano, R.F., Hawkins, J.D., Berglund, M.L., Pollard, J.A., & Arthur, M.W. (2002). Prevention science and positive youth development: Competitive or cooperative frameworks? Journal of Adolescent Health, 31, 230–239.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Clausen, J.S. (1991). Adolescent competence and the shaping of the life course. American Journal of Sociology, 96, 805–842.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Cleveland, M.J., Feinberg, M.E., Bontempo, D.E., & Greenberg, M.T. (2008). The role of risk and protective factors in substance use across adolescence. Journal of Adolescent Health, 43, 157–164.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Collins, L.M., & Lanza, S.T. (2009). Latent class and latent transition analysis for applications in the social, behavioral, and health sciences. New York: Wiley (in press).Google Scholar
  14. Collins, L.M., Murphy, S.A., & Bierman, K. (2004). A conceptual framework for adaptive preventive interventions. Prevention Science, 3, 185–196.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Cowen, E. L. (1994). The enhancement of psychological wellness: Challenges and opportunities. American Journal of Community Psychology, 22, 149–179.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Crockett, L.J., & Silbereisen, R.K. (2000). Social changes and adolescent development: issues and challenges. In L. J. Crockett & R. K. Silbereisen (Eds.), Negotiating adolescence in times of social change (pp. 1–13). New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  17. Damon, W. (2004). What is positive youth development? Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 591, 13–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Dishion, T.J., & Kavanagh, K. (2003). Intervening in adolescent problem behavior: A family-centered approach. New York: Guilford.Google Scholar
  19. Dishion, T.J., Kavanagh, K., Schneiger, A., Nelson, S., & Kaufman, N.K. (2002). Preventing early adolescent substance use: A family-centered strategy for the public middle school. Prevention Science, 3, 191–201.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. DuBois, D.L., & Silverthorn, N. (2005). Natural mentoring relationships and adolescent health: Evidence from a national study. American Journal of Public Health, 95, 518–524.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. Durlak, J.A. (1995). School-based prevention programs for children and adolescents. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  22. Eddy, J.M., & Martinez, C.R. (2008). An introduction to the Sloboda and Bukoski Society for Prevention Research (SPR) Cup. Prevention Science, 9, 1–3.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. Elder, C., Leaver-Dunn, D., Wang, M.Q., Nagy, S., & Green, L. (2000). Organized group activity as a protective factor against adolescent substance use. American Journal of Health Behavior, 24, 108–113.Google Scholar
  24. Farrell, A.D. (2008). The Multisite Violence Prevention Project: Impact of a universal school-based violence prevention program on social-cognitive outcomes. Prevention Science, 9, 231–244.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Farrington, D.P., & Loeber, R. (2000). Some benefits of dichotomization in psychiatric and criminological research. Criminal Behavior and Mental Health, 10, 100–122.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Flay, B.R., Hu, F.B., & Richardson, J. (1998). Psychosocial predictors of different stages of cigarette smoking among high school students. Preventive Medicine, 27, A9–A18.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. Fletcher, A.C., Darling, N., & Steinberg, L. (1995). Parental monitoring and peer influences on adolescent substance use. In J. McCord (Ed.), Coercion and punishment in long-term perspective (pp. 259–271). New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Gardner, M., & Steinberg, L. (2005). Peer influence on risk taking, risk preference, and risky decision making in adolescence and adulthood: An experimental study. Developmental Psychology, 41, 625–635.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  29. Gilliam, F.D., & Balles, S.N. (2001). Strategic frame analysis: Reframing America’s youth. Social Policy Report, XV, 65.Google Scholar
  30. Griffin, K.W., Botvin, G.J., Nichols, T.R., & Scheier, L.M. (2004). Low perceived chances for success in life and binge drinking among inner-city minority youth. Journal of Adolescent Health, 34, 501–507.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. Goodman, L.A. (1974). Exploratory latent structure analysis using both identifiable and unidentifiable models. Biometrika, 61, 215–231.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Hamm, J.V. (2000). Do birds of a feather flock together? The variable bases for African American, Asian American, and European American adolescents’ selection of similar friends. Developmental Psychology, 36, 209–219.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  33. Hawkins, J.D., Catalano, R.F., & Miller, J.Y. (1992). Risk and protective factors for alcohol and other drug problems in adolescence and early adulthood: Implications for substance abuse prevention. Psychological Bulletin, 112, 64–105.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  34. Hawkins, J.D., Catalano, R.F., Kosterman, R., Abbott, R., & Hill, K.G. (1999). Prevention of adolescent health-risk behaviors by strengthening protection during childhood. Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, 153, 226–234.Google Scholar
  35. Hawkins, J.D., Guo, J., Hill, K.G., Battin-Pearson, S., & Abbott, R.D. (2001). Long-term effects of the Seattle Social Development Intervention on school bonding trajectories. Applied Developmental Science, 5, 225–236.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  36. Hawkins, J.D., Van Horn, M.L., & Arthur, M.W. (2004). Community variation in risk and protective factors and substance use outcomes. Prevention Science, 5, 213–220.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  37. Jackson, C. (1997). Initial and experimental stages of tobacco and alcohol use during late childhood: Relation to peer, parent, and personal risk factors. Addictive Behavior, 22, 685–698.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Jelicic, H., Bobek, D.L., Phelps, E., Lerner, R.M., & Lerner, J.V. (2007). Using positive youth development to predict contribution and risk behaviors in early adolescence: Findings from the first two waves of the 4-H Study of Positive Youth Development. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 31, 263–273.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Jenson, J.M. (2004). Risk and protective factors for alcohol and other drug use in childhood and adolescence. In M. W. Fraser (Ed.), Risk and resilience in childhood: An ecological perspective (pp. 183–208, 2nd ed.). Washington, DC: NASW.Google Scholar
  40. Jessor, R., Van Den Bos, J., Vanderryn, J., Costa, F.M., & Turbin, M.S. (1995). Protective factors in adolescent problem behavior: Moderator effects and developmental change. Developmental Psychology, 31, 923–933.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Johnston, L.D., Bachman, J.G., & O’Malley, P.M. (2007). Monitoring the Future: A continuing study of the lifestyles and values of youth (12th Grade Survey), 1977–2006. [Data file]. Conducted by University of Michigan, Survey Research Center. Ann Arbor: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research, Institute for Social Research.Google Scholar
  42. Kafka, R.R., & London, P. (1991). Communication in relationships and adolescent substance use: The influence of parents and friends. Adolescence, 26, 587–598.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  43. Kraemer, H.C., Kazdin, A.E., Offord, D.R., Kessler, R.C., Jensen, P.S., & Kupfer, D.J. (1997). Coming to terms with the terms of risk. Archives of General Psychiatry, 54, 337–343.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  44. Kulig, K., Brener, N.D., & McManus, T. (2003). Sexual activity and substance use among adolescents by category of physical activity plus team sports participation. Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, 157, 905–912.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  45. Lanza, S.T., Collins, L.M., Lemmon, D.R., & Schafer, J.L. (2007). PROC LCA: A SAS procedure for latent class analysis. Structural Equation Modeling, 14, 671–694.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  46. Lanza, S.T., Lemmon, D.R., Schafer, J.L., & Collins, L.M. (2008). PROC LCA user’s guide version 1.1.5. University Park: Pennsylvania State University, The Methodology Center.Google Scholar
  47. Magnusson, D. (1988). Individual development from an interactional perspective: A longitudinal study. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  48. Magnusson, D. (1995). Individual development: A holistic, integrated model. In P. Moen, G. H. Jr Elder, & K. Lüscher (Eds.), Examining lives in context: Perspectives on the ecology of human development (pp. 19–60). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Masten, A.S. (2001). Ordinary magic: Resilience processes in development. American Psychologist, 56, 227–238.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  50. Masten, A.S., & Curtis, W.J. (2000). Integrating competence and psychopathology: Pathways toward a comprehensive science of adaptation in development. Development and Psychopathology, 12, 529–550.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  51. Maxwell, K.A. (2002). Friends: The role of peer influence across adolescent risk behaviors. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 31, 267–277.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Miller, M.A., Alberts, J.K., Hecht, M.L., Trost, M., & Krizek, R.L. (2000). Adolescent relationships and drug use. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  53. Molgaard, V.K., Kumpfer, K., & Fleming, E. (2001). Strengthening Families Program: For parents and youth 10-13. A video based curriculum. (Leader Guide). Ames: Iowa State University Extension.Google Scholar
  54. Moore, M.J., & Werch, C.E. (2005). Sport and physical activity participation and substance use among adolescents. Journal of Adolescent Health, 36, 486–493.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  55. Newcomb, M.D., Bentler, P.M., & Collins, C. (1986). Alcohol use and dissatisfaction with self and life: A longitudinal analysis of young adults. Journal of Drug Issues, 63, 479–494.Google Scholar
  56. Oman, R.F., Vesely, S., Aspy, C., McLeroy, K.R., Rodine, S., & Marshall, L. (2004). The potential protective effect of youth assets on adolescent alcohol and drug use. American Journal of Public Health, 94, 1425–1430.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  57. Pate, R.R., Trost, S.G., Levin, S., & Dowda, M. (2000). Sports participation and health-related behaviors among US youth. Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, 154, 904–911.Google Scholar
  58. Pollard, J.A., Hawkins, J.D., & Arthur, M.W. (1999). Risk and protection: Are both necessary to understand diverse behavioral outcomes in adolescence? Social Work Research, 23, 145–157.Google Scholar
  59. Prinstein, M.J., Boergers, J., & Spirito, A. (2001). Adolescents’ and their friends’ health-risk behaviors: Factors that alter or add to peer influence. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 26, 287–298.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  60. Raphael, D. (1996). The determinants of adolescent health: Evolving definitions, recent findings, and proposed research agenda. Journal of Adolescent Health, 19, 6–16.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  61. Rhodes, J.E., Reddy, R., & Grossman, J.B. (2005). The protective influence of mentoring on adolescents’ substance use: Direct and indirect pathways. Applied Developmental Science, 9, 31–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Roth, J., Brooks-Gunn, J., Murray, L., & Foster, W. (1998). Promoting healthy adolescents: Synthesis of youth development program evaluations. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 8, 423–459.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Rutter, M. (1979). Protective factors in children’s response to stress and disadvantage. In W. M. Kent & J. E. Rolf (Eds.), Primary prevention of psychopathology, vol. 3 (pp. 49–74). Hanover, NH: University Press of New England.Google Scholar
  64. Scales, P.C., & Leffert, N. (1999). Developmental assets: A synthesis of the scientific research on adolescent development. Minneapolis, MN, US: Search Institute.Google Scholar
  65. Schwartz, G. (1978). Estimating the dimension of a model. Annals of Statistics, 6, 461–464.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Schwartz, S.J., Pantin, H., Coatsworth, J.D., & Szapocznik, J. (2007). Addressing the challenges and opportunities for today’s youth: Toward an integrative model and its implications for research and intervention. Journal of Primary Prevention, 28, 117–144.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  67. Silbereisen, R.K., & Lerner, R.M. (Eds.) (2007). Approaches to positive youth development. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  68. Simons-Morton, B.G., Crump, A.D., Haynie, D.L., & Saylor, K.E. (1999). Student–school bonding and adolescent problem behavior. Health Educational Research, 14, 99–107.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Stevens, G.D., Seid, M., Mistry, R., & Halfon, N. (2006). Disparities in primary care for vulnerable children: The influence of multiple risk factors. Health Services Research, 41, 507–531.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  70. Theokas, C., & Lerner, R.M. (2006). Observed ecological assets in families, schools, and neighborhoods: Conceptualization, measurement and relations with positive and negative developmental outcomes. Applied Developmental Science, 10, 61–74.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Topolski, T.D., Patrick, D.L., Edwards, T.C., Huebner, C.E., Connell, F.A., & Mount, K.K. (2001). Quality of life and health-risk behaviors among adolescents. Journal of Adolescent Health, 29, 426–435.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  72. von Eye, A., & Bergman, L.R. (2003). Research strategies in developmental psychopathology: Dimensional identity and the person-oriented approach [Special Issue: Conceptual, methodological, and statistical issues in developmental psychopathology: A special issue in honor of Paul E. Meehl]. Development and Psychopathology, 15, 553–580.Google Scholar
  73. Weissberg, R.P., & Greenberg, M.T. (1998). School and community competence-enhancement and prevention programs. In W. Damon (Series Ed.), I. E. Sigel, & K. A., Renniger (Vol. Eds.), Handbook of child psychology: Vol. 4. Child psychology in practice (5th ed., pp. 877–954). New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  74. Werner, E.E. (1989). Children of the garden island. Scientific American, 260, 107–111.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Wooley, M.E., & Bowen, G.L. (2007). In the context of risk: Supportive adults and the school engagement of middle school students. Family Relations, 56, 92–105.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Zullig, K.J., Valois, R.T., Huebner, E.S., Oeltmann, J.E., & Drane, W. (2001). Relationship between perceived life satisfaction and adolescents’ substance abuse. Journal of Adolescent Health, 29, 279–288.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Society for Prevention Research 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Amy K. Syvertsen
    • 1
  • Michael J. Cleveland
    • 1
  • Jochebed G. Gayles
    • 1
  • Melissa K. Tibbits
    • 1
  • Monique T. Faulk
    • 2
  1. 1.The Pennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA
  2. 2.University of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA

Personalised recommendations