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Adolescent social networks, smoking, and loneliness

Institution: University of Southern California
Investigator(s): Stephanie Dyal, B.S.
Award Cycle: 2014 (Cycle 23) Grant #: 23DT-0112 Award: $60,303
Subject Area: Disparities /Prevention/ Cessation/ Nicotine Dependence
Award Type: Dissertation Awards

Initial Award Abstract

Loneliness and social network characteristics are both important predictors of smoking during adolescence. However, social networks and loneliness have not been studied concurrently as predictors of cigarette smoking, despite their potential associations with one another and with smoking conjointly. This study proposes to examine social network characteristics and loneliness as predictors of smoking within a sample of predominately Hispanic/Latino adolescents attending five California high schools.

Social networks are representations of how people are interconnected within a community. Social network characteristics such as having smokers as friends, being socially isolated, and being popular are associated with smoking in adolescents. However, people’s perceptions of what a fulfilling social environment is may differ due to individual differences, and loneliness may not be the same as objective measures of social environment quality or quantity. Understanding how social networks and loneliness are associated may inform their associations with smoking during adolescence.

Data previously collected as part of a study on social network dynamics and adolescent risk behavior will be analyzed to address the study aims. Study aims include: (1)To assess the associations among loneliness, social networks, and smoking as measured at a single time point and multiple time points; (2)To assess if gender differences exist in the associations among loneliness, social networks, and smoking; (3)To assess the associations among loneliness, social networks, parental communication, linguistic acculturation, peer norms, identity, and smoking; and (4) To assess if loneliness or social networks serve as pathways between any of factors listed under aim 3 and smoking. Knowledge gained from the proposed analyses may inform smoking prevention efforts for adolescents.