March 14, 2011
This study focused on how a non-targeted group minority youth might or might not benefit from a prevention intervention focused on other cultural groups. The study specifically evaluated the effects of an evidence-based drug prevention curriculum with a sample of urban American Indian youth in the southwest U.S., most of whom self-reported multi-ethnic heritages. This research examined the developmental trajectory of drug use for these youth, and compared it with the trajectory of youth from other racial/ethnic groups at pre-intervention, post-intervention, and two follow up time periods. Results indicated that alcohol and marijuana use increased from pre-intervention across subsequent time periods for all youth. The drug use of the American Indian youth in the treatment group increased on certain measures. They reported a steeper trajectory in the amount and frequency of alcohol and marijuana use compared to the youths in the treatment groups with other racial/ethnic identifications. Implications of these findings for the development of culturally grounded prevention programs for multi-ethnic, urban American Indian youth are discussed.
Culturally specific, school-based drug prevention programs have been receiving increased attention in recent years. These programs are based on the premise that infusing youths' culture into the content and format of the prevention message will reduce adolescent drug use (Kandel 1995). One such program, Keepin' it R.E.A.L., has achieved this by creating the curriculum from the developmental and cultural realities of Mexican American youth from the southwest United States (Gosin et al. 2003). To date, the program has been developed for and evaluated with primarily Mexican American youth (Kulis et al. 2005). Research has assessed the differences in program effectiveness by acculturation level among Mexican/Mexican Americans (Marsiglia et al. 2005) but has not closely examined the residual effects of this program among other minority youth populations (i.e., the program's effects on non-targeted minority youth populations). In what ways might this program impact the drug use of minority youth who are not Mexican American? How might these effects compare with the treatment effects of the program for Mexican American and European American youth?
Drug Prevention Programming for American Indian Youth
There have been substantial efforts in recent years toward the development of drug prevention programs focused on American Indian youth. For example, Marlatt et al. (2003) described the development of the Journeys of the Circle Project, which is a culturally congruent life skills course targeted toward Northwestern American Indian youth. Similarly, Schinke et al. (2000) implemented and evaluated a culturally tailored life skills intervention with American Indian youth from 10 reservations in North and South Dakota, Idaho, Montana, and Oklahoma. Aside from the research conducted by Schinke and colleagues, however, the majority of prevention efforts with American Indian youth have not been rigorously evaluated for efficacy (Beauvais and Trimble 2003; Hawkins et al. 2004). Beauvais and Trimble stated that most of the prevention research with American Indian youth has focused largely on "commentary and recommendations and not on the science of prevention" (p. 397).
However, while there are relatively few evaluation studies focused specifically on drug use and American Indian youth, there have been ongoing efforts related to culturally specific drug prevention programs for minority youth in general. Related to this research is the debate as to whether prevention programs need to be culturally "grounded," that is, developed from the cultural values and...