Flint Adolescent Study

Flint Adolescent Study



The Flint Adolescent Study (FAS) is an ongoing interview study beginning with 850 ninth graders conducted in collaboration with Flint Community Schools. In order to study those students most at risk for leaving school before graduation, individuals with grade point averages of 3.0 and below were selected. The original goal of the study was to explore the protective factors associated with school dropout and alcohol and substance use. Students were sampled from the four main public high schools in Flint, Michigan. The study followed youth across their four high school years. We obtained a 90% response rate from Year 1 to Year 4. The Year 1 sample includes 679 African-American youth (80%), 145 white youth (17%) and 26 mixed African-American and white youth (3%). We had an even distribution between males and females. The sample reflected the overall student body in the Flint 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). The goal of the follow-up study was to examine the effects of adolescent alcohol and drug use on marriage and family formation, educational achievement, employment, and other health-related indicators such as psychological well-being and community involvement. We obtained a 68% response rate over all eight years.


In 2007, we were funded to collect data for another four years. Now in their mid-twenties, we applied a socioecological life span model to the study of drug and alcohol abuse and dependence as study participants experience the middle adult transition period. We studied risk and promotive factors associated with drug abuse and dependence with a focus on life-stress, positive and negative influences from others, social capital and integration, and coping strategies. We measured

  • social factors such as support from family and friends, behavioral influences from others, participation in voluntary organizations;
  • individual level factors such as anxiety, depression, self-worth, ethnic identity, and anti-social behavior; and
  • adult transitional factors such as marriage and family relationships, child bearing including parenting, and employment issues including type of job, job qualities, and history.

We also studied neighborhood contextual influences by linking our data to Census tract information and other secondary data sources.

Information obtained from youth across the years includes:

  • participation in church, school and community organizations
  • social support and influence of family and friends (including mentoring)
  • self-esteem, stress and psychological well being
  • delinquent and violent behaviors; alcohol and substance abuse
  • sex behaviors and child bearing
  • school attitudes and performance
  • family structure and relationships
  • driving behavior (beginning in Years 3 & 4)
  • racial identity (beginning in Year 3)
  • marriage, parenting, and post-secondary education (beginning in Year 5)

Now in their 30’s, many of the original FAS participants have children of their own, and are participating in the follow up FAS Generation 2 study.

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