Interpersonal communication among participants plays an important role in the impact and effectiveness of prevention programs (Southwell & Yzer, Communication Theory 19:1–8, 2009). This study focused on adolescents’ informal conversations about a prevention program, referred to as social talk, from a social network perspective. We provide both a conceptualization of social talk in relation to prevention programs and an operationalization of it by examining adolescents’ social networks. Participants (N = 185) were eighth-grade students attending a middle school substance-abuse prevention program called keepin’ it REAL (kiR). Participants engaged in both positive and negative social talk about kiR. Students with higher friendship indegree centrality were more likely to have greater positive social talk indegree centrality (r =.23 p <.01). These results indicated that youth considered as friends by most of their classmates were also reported as being positive in their comments with respect to kiR. Youth who talked positively about kiR tended to report personal anti-substance injunctive norms (b = 0.71, p <.05). On the other hand, youth who were nominated as negative social talkers by their peers appeared to have less personal anti-substance injunctive norms (b = −0.92, p <.05). Furthermore, youth who were more likely to talk negatively about kiR were less likely to perceive that their best friends (b = −1.66, p <.05) or most youth in their age (b = −1.49, p <.05) disapprove of substance use.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health