Flint Adolescent Study – Generation 2


The specific aims of this study are to understand the intergenerational transmission of risk for alcohol, tobacco, and other drug (ATOD) use in an urban, predominantly African-American sample we have been following since 1994 (Flint Adolescent Study).

The Flint Adolescent Study (FAS) is an interview study that followed a cohort of youth recruited from Flint Community Schools in 1994. The original goal of the study was to explore the protective factors associated with school dropout and ATOD use across their four high school years. We obtained a 90% response rate from Year 1 to Year 4. (Year 1: n=851; 80%African-American youth, 17% white youth 3% mixed African-American/white youth; 50% female). The sample reflected the overall student body in the Flint public high schools in the fall of 1994. We continued to follow the original sample for another four years as they transitioned from adolescence into young adulthood (Year 5 to Year 8; 68% response rate over all 8 years), in order to examine the effects of adolescent ATOD use on educational achievement, employment, and other health-related indicators such as psychological well-being and community involvement in young adulthood. Subsequently, we followed this sample (Years 9 through 12) through their transition to adulthood in order to examine the risk and promotive factors associated with ATOD use with a focus on life-stress, positive and negative influences from others, social capital and integration, and coping strategies. This proposed study expands on the scope of the original study to include analysis of how parenting factors may increase or decrease their children’s risk and promotive factors associated with ATOD use.

This longitudinal study and takes advantage of a rich dataset that includes individual (e.g., ATOD use) and family (e.g., parental support) characteristics overtime and neighborhood level variables (e.g., census tract, police incident data, community survey data) to contribute to our knowledge about intergenerational transmission of ATOD risk and behavior. Generation 1 (G1) in the proposed study includes FAS participants who are now parents to over 400 children aged 5-16 years old. The few studies on intergenerational transmission of ATOD use have not included a large sample of urban African-Americans with middle to low income backgrounds. We apply a socio-ecological developmental framework with a resiliency perspective to study how familial and neighborhood environments, and past and current behaviors, attitudes, and experiences of a cohort of 30+ year old parents influence their parenting attitudes and behaviors over time, and how these factors may influence antecedents of ATOD and ATOD use in their children (G2). Our socio-ecological model focuses on dynamic influences of family and neighborhood contextual factors by considering changes over time and those factors that may help alter risk trajectories. Researchers have demonstrated a strong link between internalizing and externalizing behaviors in early and middle childhood, and ATOD use in adolescence and early adulthood, but there are few who have examined the parent-to-child transmission that include data from the parents’ adolescence, in an urban mostly lower income sample, neighborhood-level influences, and exploration of factors that may help alter trajectories of risk for ATOD outcomes in the children. Some researchers have focused on some aspects of these issues but have not put all these factors together in a single study, nor do they have the depth of data on parents as. Our specific aims are:

  1. To examine how individual and family factors measured across adolescence and young adulthood predict G1’s parenting attitudes and behaviors.
  2. To identify which G1 parenting attitudes and behaviors predict G2 ATOD use antecedents (both risk and promotive factors) and subsequent ATOD use (or nonuse).
  3. To test a social ecological model that incorporates the findings from Aims 1-2 into a comprehensive model testing both longitudinal influences and structural paths.
  4. To determine the extent to which Aims 1-2 are influenced by neighborhood characteristics.

For a complete publication list for the Flint Adolescent Study and FAS G2, visit the Flint Adolescent Study website.