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Publication Detail
Associations of arts and cultural engagement with substance use trajectories in adolescence and early adulthood: a latent growth curve analysis of the Add Health cohort
  • Publication Type:
    Working discussion paper
  • Authors:
    Fluharty M, Bu F, Bone JK, Sonke J, Fancourt D, Paul E
  • Publisher:
    Center for Open Science
  • Publication date:
  • Status:
  • Language:
  • Notes:
    This paper is available under CC-By Attribution 4.0 International licence
Introduction: Substance use (e.g., alcohol, marijuana, tobacco) is common during adolescence and may lead to a number of long-term negative outcomes (e.g., poor mental health). It is therefore important to explore factors that reduce the risk of engaging in these potentially harmful behaviours. Extracurricular activities (i.e., how people spend their free time) are known to be effective in reducing the risk of engaging in substance use, but the specific effects of arts and cultural engagement are less known. // Methods. Data were from the first four waves (1994-2008) of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (ages 12-17 years). Arts and cultural engagement were measured at wave 1 (1994) by (i) the number of arts and culture groups engaged in and (ii) the weekly frequency of arts and culture related hobbies. Substance use was measured using three binary indicators of any past month alcohol intoxication, marijuana, and tobacco use measured at waves 1 to 4. Latent growth curve modelling was used to examine associations between arts and cultural engagement (group participation and weekly hobbies) at wave 1 and trajectories of past month alcohol intoxication, marijuana use, and tobacco use over waves 1 to 4. Analyses accounted for sociodemographic covariates. // Results. At wave 1, participating in more arts and cultural groups was associated with lower concurrent likelihood of being intoxicated by alcohol and using tobacco. However, longitudinally, differences in likelihoods began to narrow across waves until there was no difference by wave 4. There was no association with marijuana use. Similar results were found for engagement in hobbies; adolescents who participated in more weekly hobbies were less likely to have used any of the three substances concurrently, although over time, the differences between the groups narrowed. However, there was some evidence that the differences persisted across waves when using a less stringent (weekly) alcohol intoxication variable. // Conclusions. Overall, this research confirms associations between arts and cultural engagement and substance use at a population level amongst adolescents in the US. Actively engaging in arts and cultural activities is associated with reduced risk of concurrent substance use suggesting a potential protective relationship. However, this protection attenuates over time. As we only examined arts and cultural activities at one time point, whether sustained engagement in these activities differentially influences the risk of substance use requires further investigation.
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