Social capital, political trust and experience of cannabis smoking: a population-based study in southern Sweden

Martin Lindström
Preventive Medicine 2008, 46 (6): 599-604

OBJECTIVE: To investigate whether political mistrust in the Riksdag (the national parliament in Sweden) is an independent characteristic of cannabis smokers, or whether it reflects low confidence in people in general, and therefore low social capital.

METHOD: The 2004 public health survey in Skåne is a cross-sectional postal questionnaire study answered by 27,757 respondents aged 18-80 with a 59% response rate providing data on political trust, cannabis smoking, and potential confounders.

RESULTS: 13.9% of the men and 8.3% of the women had smoked cannabis; 17.3% of the male and 11.6% of the female respondents reported no trust at all in the Riksdag, and another 38.2% and 36.2%, respectively, reported a moderate political trust. Young age, high education, unemployment, low generalized trust in other people, and lower levels of political trust were associated with cannabis smoking, even after multiple adjustments. The groups men with no trust at all in the Riksdag, and women with high trust, not particularly high political trust and no political trust at all had significantly higher odds ratios of cannabis smoking than the very high trust reference category. The results thus somewhat differed between men and women.

CONCLUSION: Low political trust is associated with cannabis smoking, independently of trust in people in general.

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