This study will pilot test the use of a social networking Web site (SNS) to recruit adolescents for problem alcohol use screening. The leading causes of morbidity and mortality in adolescence are associated with alcohol use;however, most adolescents at risk for or engaging in problem alcohol use are not identified via screening. Most studies of adolescent alcohol use have been conducted using samples derived from clinics, schools or communities;however, online communities are of increasing importance to teens. More than half of Internet-using U.S. adolescents report ownership of a SNS profile, and many adolescents display alcohol references on their profiles. The public display of alcohol references online may be an indicator of problem drinking. This study will recruit adolescents with publicly available MySpace web profiles who report ages between 16 and 20 years. We will evaluate subjects'MySpace profiles for alcohol references, and recruit subjects by email to an online problem alcohol use screening using the CRAFFT screen. This study has the primary objective of determining whether recruiting for CRAFFT screening using SNS is feasible in an adolescent population. We will also determine whether response rates to completing CRAFFT screening differ if the email approach is from a physician versus non-physician. Finally, we will compare adolescents who display alcohol references on a SNS to those who do not with respect to CRAFFT problem drinking scores. SNS have the potential to be a highly innovative approach towards identification and targeted screening of problem alcohol use among adolescents. The results of this study have the potential to establish links between self-displayed health information on SNS profiles and self-reported health information via survey. Further, the results of this evaluation have the potential to impact public health practice by demonstrating how to expand adolescent health screening to the Internet using public Web sites and email communication.
This study will pilot test the use of a social networking Web site to recruit adolescents for problem alcohol use screening. Social networking Web sites are immensely popular among adolescents and may be an untapped resource for identifying adolescents'displayed behaviors as well as providing communication and health information. The study may provide valuable clues to the validity of adolescents'displayed health risk behavior information on MySpace profiles by linking self-displayed information to self-reported information. Thus, the results of this study will help us determine if SNSs are a valid venue for identification of adolescents at risk for problem drinking and whether displayed information on SNS is associated with problem drinking scores on screening tests. The results of this evaluation have the potential to impact public health practice by demonstrating how to expand adolescent health screening to the Internet using public Web sites and email communication.
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