Latent transition analysis: Benefits of a latent variable approach to modeling transitions in substance use

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Abstract

We apply latent transition analysis (LTA) to characterize transitions over time in substance use behavior profiles among first-year college students. Advantages of modeling substance use behavior as a categorical latent variable are demonstrated. Alcohol use (any drinking and binge drinking), cigarette use, and marijuana use were assessed in a sample (N=718) of college students during the fall and spring semesters. Four profiles of 14-day substance use behavior were identified: (1) Non-Users; (2) Cigarette Smokers; (3) Binge Drinkers; and (4) Bingers with Marijuana Use. The most prevalent behavior profile at both times was the Non-Users (with over half of the students having this profile), followed by Binge Drinkers and Bingers with Marijuana Use. Cigarette Smokers were the least prevalent behavior profile. Gender, race/ethnicity, early onset of alcohol use, grades in high school, membership in the honors program, and friendship goals were all significant predictors of substance use behavior profile.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)93-120
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Drug Issues
Volume40
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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