Evaluating the Impact of a Substance Use Intervention Program on the Peer Status and Influence of Adolescent Peer Leaders
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The current study involved an examination of the impact of a peer-led substance use intervention program on the peer leaders beyond the substance use-related goals of the intervention. Specifically, unintended consequences of an adult-sanctioned intervention on the targeted peer leader change agents were investigated, including whether their participation affected their peer status, social influence, or self perceptions. Twenty-two 7th grade peer-identified intervention leaders were compared to 22 control leaders (who did not experience the intervention) and 146 cohort peers. Three groups of measures were employed: sociometric and behavioral nominations, social cognitive mapping, and leadership self-perceptions. Results indicated that unintended consequences appear to be a legitimate concern for females. Female intervention leaders declined in perceived popularity and liked most nominations over time, whereas males increased in total leader nominations. Explanations for these results are discussed and further directions suggested.
KeywordsAdolescents Peer leaders Peer influence School-based prevention Substance use Social status
Portions of this research were presented at the 2010 biennial meeting of the Society for Research on Adolescence in Philadephia, PA. This research was supported by National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) Grants P20 DA017589-02 and P30 DA023026. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of NIDA. The first and second authors received support from the Duke University Vertical Integration Program and the first author also was funded by a Jacqueline Anne Morris Research Fellowship. The authors are grateful to the adolescents and teachers who participated in this research and to the staff of the Center for Child and Family Policy for their contributions to data collection.
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