In this study, we propose to collect survey, real-time location, and ecological momentary assessment data over a two year period in a sample of 300 urban adolescents. This unique data set will then be applied to developing multilevel and actor-based social network models of the co-evolution of substance use behaviors, peer affiliations, and the use and meaning of geographical space over time. We propose a highly contextually specific research approach to ground social networks within the social environment of adolescents' lives. We will use Ecological Momentary Assessment (EMA) methodology via mobile messaging technology to simultaneously assess multiple influences on adolescent substance use in real time. Along with sampled specific coordinate data of location and a series of standard surveys, this approach will integrate the personal, social, and environmental processes associated with initiation and escalation of substance use. The goal of this study is to model the evolution of multi-level mechanisms affecting substance use for urban youth. The design alluded to thus far (and elaborated further below) gives rise to two related data models; (1) a hierarchical three-level longitudinal design (Raudenbush & Bryk, 2002), with individual change in substance use nested within personal networks, which are in turn nested within neighborhoods, and also (2) a non-hierarchical design with individuals non-uniquely linked to locations. The latter is best thought of as a bipartite (or 2-mode) social network (Wasserman & Faust, 1994; Robins & Alexander, 2004), i.e., a network with two distinct types of vertices, in this case locations and individuals, where ties are only allowed between vertex types.
Aim 1. Model changes in substance use over 2 years, focusing on the moderating effects of individual social network quality (risk/protection) on neighborhood-level predictors (concentrated disadvantage: low education and employment, high public assistance; drug related crime; alcohol availability).
Aim 2. Model changes in substance use over 2 years, focusing on the mediating effects of individual network quality (riskiness) on individual-level predictors: affective, cognitive and behavioral influences.
Aim 3. Model change over two years in the co-evolution of substance use and the use of space, defined by a bipartite social network linking individuals to locations, particularly focusing on: (a) Structural tendencies driven by common influence and selection-related mechanisms (e.g. bipartite-graph equivalents of transitivity, reciprocity and other network closure effects typically found in ordinary (1-mode) networks), (b) Main and moderating effects of activity spaces (individuals' interpretation of locations), and (c) Main and moderating effects of neighborhood characteristics (which are properties of locations).

Public Health Relevance

Our longitudinal, multi-level study will produce rich, highly relevant, ecologically informed prevention data that can guide targeted interventions. Integrated individual, social network and geographical data can serve as a model to direct the development of future innovative substance abuse preventive interventions for urban youth.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
Research Project (R01)
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Study Section
Community Influences on Health Behavior (CIHB)
Program Officer
Etz, Kathleen
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Virginia Commonwealth University
Schools of Medicine
United States
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Mennis, Jeremy; Mason, Michael; Coffman, Donna L et al. (2018) Geographic Imputation of Missing Activity Space Data from Ecological Momentary Assessment (EMA) GPS Positions. Int J Environ Res Public Health 15:
Mennis, Jeremy; Yoo, Eun-Hye Enki (2018) Geographic Information Science and the Analysis of Place and Health. Trans GIS 22:842-854
Mennis, Jeremy; Mason, Michael; Ambrus, Andreea (2018) Urban Greenspace is Associated with Reduced Psychological Stress among Adolescents: A Geographic Ecological Momentary Assessment (GEMA) Analysis of Activity Space. Landsc Urban Plan 174:1-9
Mason, Michael J; Mennis, Jeremy (2018) Young Urban Adolescents' Activity Spaces, Close Peers, and the Risk of Cannabis Use: A Social-Spatial Longitudinal Analysis. Subst Use Misuse 53:2032-2042
Mason, Michael J; Light, John M; Mennis, Jeremy et al. (2017) Neighborhood disorder, peer network health, and substance use among young urban adolescents. Drug Alcohol Depend 178:208-214
Mason, Michael J; Zaharakis, Nikola M; Rusby, Julie C et al. (2017) A longitudinal study predicting adolescent tobacco, alcohol, and cannabis use by behavioral characteristics of close friends. Psychol Addict Behav 31:712-720
Mason, Michael; Mennis, Jeremy; Light, John et al. (2016) Parents, Peers, and Places: Young Urban Adolescents' Microsystems and Substance Use Involvement. J Child Fam Stud 25:1441-1450
Mennis, Jeremy; Stahler, Gerald J; Mason, Michael J (2016) Risky Substance Use Environments and Addiction: A New Frontier for Environmental Justice Research. Int J Environ Res Public Health 13:
Mason, Michael; Mennis, Jeremy; Way, Thomas et al. (2015) Young adolescents' perceived activity space risk, peer networks, and substance use. Health Place 34:143-9