A comparison of cut points for measuring risk factors for adolescent substance use and antisocial behaviors in the U.S.and Colombia




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International journal of environmental research and public health, 1660-4601, Vol. 18, Nro. 2, 2021, p. 1-14

Publicado por

Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute (MDPI)

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As the identification and targeting of salient risk factors for adolescent substance use become more widely used globally, an essential question arises as to whether U.S.-based cut points in the distributions of these risk factors that identify high risk can be used validly in other countries as well. This study examined proportions of youth at high risk using different empirically derived cut points in the distributions of 18 measured risk factors. Data were obtained from large-scale samples of adolescents in Colombia and the United States. Results indicated that significant (p < 0.05) differences in the proportions of high risk youth were found in 38.9% of risk factors for 6th graders, 61.1% for 8th graders, and 66.6% for 10th graders. Colombian-based cut points for determining the proportion of Colombian youth at high risk were preferable to U.S.-based cut points in almost all comparisons that exhibited a significant difference. Our findings suggest that observed differences were related to the type of risk factor (e.g., drug specific vs. non-drug specific). Findings from this study demonstrate the need for collecting large-scale national data on risk factors for adolescent substance use and developing country-specific cut points based on the distributions of these measures to avoid misidentification of youth at high risk.

Palabras clave


Risk factors, Adolescent substance use, Youth antisocial behaviors, Communities That Care