The proposed research examines cross-sectional and longitudinal relationships of depression and conduct problems to use of marijuana, cigarettes, and alcohol in an understudied population, African-American adolescents. Data from this project are drawn from two unique studies: Monitoring the Future (MTF), a large, national study of substance use and related constructs and SCHOO-BE, a laboratory study of substance use and mental health in a large sample of urban African American adolescents. This project maximizes the respective advantages of survey and laboratory research by exploring longitudinal relationships of substance use and mental health and their potential common underlying mechanisms, with two aims. First, this research aims to examine the cross-sectional relationships between depression, conduct problems, and marijuana, cigarette, and alcohol use in two African American adolescent samples: SCHOO-BE and a demographically comparable sample selected from MTF. Second, this research aims to further characterize the relationships of mental health symptoms to substance use, capitalizing on strengths of each dataset by conducting longitudinal analysis in MTF of depression and conduct problems predicting future marijuana, cigarette, and alcohol use, and by testing a mediation model in SCHOO-BE in which conduct problems and depression mediate the relationship between parental support and marijuana, cigarette, and alcohol use. The current project will contribute important knowledge on the developmental trajectories of substance use in African-American adolescents. This population is underrepresented in the extant literature, and results of studies of non-African-American samples cannot be assumed to generalize to them. Research to date has revealed that African-Americans are more likely to experience substance-related problems such as substance use disorder and negative health consequences despite lower rates of use during adolescence. However, the role of mental health, specifically depression and conduct problems, in African-Americans'marijuana, cigarette, and alcohol use and their progression to problematic use has not yet been elaborated. The findings yielded by the proposed research will have immediate relevance for culturally specific prevention and intervention programs to reduce substance use by African-American youth by targeting mental health symptoms. The research training component of the project is centered on three training goals for the Principal Investigator, Julie Maslowsky: to increase grant and manuscript writing skills, expand empirical skills, and further develop her multidisciplinary professional network. The training will be accomplished over two years via a rigorous program of courses and workshops that teach the skills Julie wishes to learn, individual and lab meetings where she receives guidance on her research progress and her professional development, collaboration with colleagues from multiple disciplines, and presentations at the major multidisciplinary conferences in the field. Receipt of this training will prepare her well for her intended career as an independent developmental science researcher.

Public Health Relevance

By adding to our knowledge of the relationships between substance use and mental health in African-American adolescents, this research will illuminate an important pathway into early substance use in this population. The knowledge gained will reveal specific developmental processes that can be targeted for prevention and intervention to mitigate the harmful consequences of early substance use.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
Predoctoral Individual National Research Service Award (F31)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-F11-B (20))
Program Officer
Schulden, Jeffrey D
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
University of Michigan Ann Arbor
Schools of Arts and Sciences
Ann Arbor
United States
Zip Code
Maslowsky, Julie; Schulenberg, John; Chiodo, Lisa M et al. (2015) Parental Support, Mental Health, and Alcohol and Marijuana Use in National and High-Risk African-American Adolescent Samples. Subst Abuse 9:11-20
Maslowsky, Julie; Jager, Justin; Hemken, Douglas (2015) Estimating and interpreting latent variable interactions: A tutorial for applying the latent moderated structural equations method. Int J Behav Dev 39:87-96
Maslowsky, Julie; Schulenberg, John E; Zucker, Robert A (2014) Influence of conduct problems and depressive symptomatology on adolescent substance use: developmentally proximal versus distal effects. Dev Psychol 50:1179-89
Maslowsky, Julie; Schulenberg, John E (2013) Interaction matters: quantifying conduct problem × depressive symptoms interaction and its association with adolescent alcohol, cigarette, and marijuana use in a national sample. Dev Psychopathol 25:1029-43
Maslowsky, Julie; Schulenberg, John E; O'Malley, Patrick M et al. (2013) Depressive symptoms, conduct problems, and risk for polysubstance use among adolescents: Results from US national surveys. Ment Health Subst Use 7:157-169
Maslowsky, Julie; Buvinger, Elizabeth; Keating, Daniel P et al. (2011) Cost-Benefit Analysis Mediation of the Relationship Between Sensation Seeking and Risk Behavior. Pers Individ Dif 51:802-806