Predicting latent classes of drug-related problems among adolescents: secondary analysis of a cluster randomized controlled trial


Braz. J. Psychiatry




Objective: To detect latent patterns of drug-related problems and their predictors among adolescents. Methods: A three-wave randomized controlled trial was conducted among 6,391 7th and 8th graders (51.02% girls) at 72 public schools in six Brazilian cities to evaluate the #Tamojunto school-based drug prevention program. Patterns of drug use and behavior problems were identified through latent class analysis, and logistic regression analyses were used to detect predictors of high-risk and low-risk groups. Results: Two groups were found that best explained the patterns of drug use and problem behaviors: high drug use/high problems and low drug use/low problems, representing 36.7 and 63.3% of the sample, respectively. No program effect was a determinant of the risk of belonging to these groups. Any reported problem behavior in the year preceding baseline assessment increased the likelihood of belonging to the high-risk group at the 21-month follow-up by 16 times. Alcohol use at baseline and female gender increased the likelihood of belonging to the high-risk group by 70%. Conclusion: Previous behavior problems and alcohol use were the strongest predictors of higher risk, suggesting that effective earlier interventions and early screening for alcohol use and behavioral problems are needed at schools, particularly for girls. Clinical trial registration: Registro Brasileiro de Ensaios Clínicos (REBEC), RBR-4mnv5g

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