Wayne State University

Wayne State University study shows teens provide socially acceptable responses even in the face of impending drug testing

DETROIT—A recent study by researchers at Wayne State University showed that both teens and parents substantially underreported drug use, even when they had knowledge that a certificate of confidentiality protected them as a participant in the research study.

According to Virginia Delaney-Black, M.D., M.P.H., professor of pediatrics at Wayne State University’s School of Medicine and Children’s Hospital of Michigan and lead author of the study, analysis of teen hair specimens were 52 times more likely to identify cocaine use when compared to self-report of use. Parent specimens were 6.5 times more likely to indicate cocaine use when compared to self-report of use.

“These findings confirm prior reports of adult underreporting of their own drug use while extending our understanding of teen self-admitted drug use,” said Delaney-Black. “Health care providers and others who need to know about teen drug use should consider additional methods of ascertainment other than self- or parent-report to verify teen drug use prevalence.”

The study, currently available online and slated to be published in the Nov. 5, 2010, issue of Pediatrics, verified that teen self-reported drug use numbers matched those from national anonymous surveys of black adolescents, suggesting that prior studies drastically underestimated drug use, particularly of cocaine and opiates, in teens.

“Concern about the potential risks of drug-use admission, perceived social acceptability of reporting drug use or anxiety that parents may find out about their drug use may account for teens’ preference to say ‘I don’t,’ added Delaney-Black.

In addition to Delaney-Black, other Wayne State researchers who co-authored the study were: Lisa M. Chiodo, Ph.D; John H. Hannigan, Ph.D.; Mark K. Greenwald, Ph.D.; James Janisse, Ph.D.; Grace Patterson; Joel Ager, Ph.D.; and Robert J. Sokol, M.D. Marilyn A. Huestis, Ph.D., of the Chemistry and Drug Metabolism Section of the Intramural Research Program of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, also was a co-author of the study.

To view the full study funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse of the National Institutes of Health, visit http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/content/abstract/peds.2009-3059v1.

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Wayne State University is one of the nation’s pre-eminent public research universities in an urban setting. Through its multidisciplinary approach to research and education, and its ongoing collaboration with government, industry and other institutions, the university seeks to enhance economic growth and improve the quality of life in the city of Detroit, state of Michigan and throughout the world. For more information about research at Wayne State University, visit http://www.research.wayne.edu.