A multilevel study of schools’ influences on adolescent substance use


Haws, Susan & Ennett, Susan T. (2012). A multilevel study of schools' influences on adolescent substance use. 2012 Add Health Users Conference. Bethesda, MD: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Carolina Population Center.


Empirical research suggests that school contexts have significant effects on student substance use. The Theory of Health Promoting Schools (HPS), developed in the United Kingdom by Markham and Aveyard, proposes processes through which school contextual factors affect substance use. We apply the Theory of HPS to a U.S. context and present findings on the relationships between school value-added status, school ethos, and student use of cigarettes, alcohol, and marijuana. Data come from Waves 1 and 2 of the in-home survey conducted with students in grades 7-12 as part of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. Factor analysis, linear regression, and multilevel modeling are used for measure development and model testing. Unconditional models reveal that there is significant variation in smoking, drinking, heavy drinking, and marijuana use between schools at Wave 2. Conditional models examining the effects of school context on substance use reveal that after controlling for demographic factors, family factors, baseline substance use, and school type, the individual analogs of the school context variables, including individual GPA, truancy, school bonding and academic well-being, are significantly associated with substance use outcomes in the expected direction. However, poorer school context, as indicated by three of the school level variables, is associated with a decrease in log odds of substance use. Implications of these unexpected findings are discussed.





Reference Type

Conference proceeding

Book Title

2012 Add Health Users Conference


Haws, Susan
Ennett, Susan T.

Year Published



University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Carolina Population Center

City of Publication

Bethesda, MD

Reference ID