JOURNAL ARTICLE

The influence of perceived risk to health and immigration-related characteristics on substance use among Latino and other immigrants

Victoria D Ojeda, Thomas L Patterson, Steffanie A Strathdee
American Journal of Public Health 2008, 98 (5): 862-8
18382009

OBJECTIVES: We examined whether immigration-related characteristics and perceptions of risk surrounding substance use were independently associated with lifetime use of cigarettes and various illicit substances among immigrant and native-born Latino and non-Latino White adults in the United States.

METHODS: Data were from the 2002 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Analyses were limited to Latinos and non-Latino Whites 18 years and older. We used cross-tabulations and multivariate logistic regression to test relations between risk perceptions, immigration characteristics, and substance use.

RESULTS: More than two thirds of all respondents perceived moderate or great risk to health and well-being associated with all substances analyzed. The odds of lifetime substance use by Latino and non-Latino White immigrants were lower than for US-born non-Latino Whites. Immigrant Latinos' odds of lifetime substance use were lower than for US-born Latinos. Moderate or great perceived risk was associated with lower likelihood of lifetime use of all substances except cigarettes.

CONCLUSIONS: Foreign birth appeared to protect against substance use among both Latino and non-Latino White immigrants. Future studies should examine potential protective factors, including cultural beliefs and practices, acculturation, familial ties, and social network influences.

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