A longitudinal study of substance use and violent victimization in adulthood among a cohort of urban African Americans

Elaine Eggleston Doherty, Judith A. Robertson, Kerry M. Green, Kate E. Fothergill, Margaret E. Ensminger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Aims This paper examines the effects of experiencing violent victimization in young adulthood on pathways of substance use from adolescence to mid-adulthood. Design Data come from four assessments of an African American community cohort followed longitudinally from age 6 to 42 years. Setting The cohort lived in the urban, disadvantaged Woodlawn neighborhood of Chicago in 1966. Participants All first graders from the public and parochial schools were asked to participate (n=1242). Measurement Dependent variables-alcohol, marijuana and cocaine use-came from self-reports at age 42. Young adult violent victimization was reported at age 32, as were acts of violence, substance use, social integration and socio-economic resources. First grade risk factors came from mothers' and teachers' reports; adolescent substance use was self-reported. Findings Structural equation models indicate a pathway from adolescent substance use to young adult violent victimization for females and those who did not grow up in extreme poverty (betas ranging from 0.15 to 0.20, P<0.05). In turn, experiencing violent victimization in young adulthood increased alcohol, marijuana and cocaine use, yet results varied by gender and early poverty status (betas ranging from 0.12 to 0.15, P<0.05). Conclusions Violent victimization appears to play an important role in perpetuating substance use among the African American population. However, within-group variations are evident, identifying those who are not raised in extreme poverty as the most negatively affected by violence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)339-348
Number of pages10
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • African Americans
  • Gender
  • Poverty
  • Structural equation modeling
  • Substance use
  • Victimization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


Dive into the research topics of 'A longitudinal study of substance use and violent victimization in adulthood among a cohort of urban African Americans'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this