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Childhood Temperament as a Predictor of Substance Use in Early Adolescence

Thomas, Carrie Ann (2006) Childhood Temperament as a Predictor of Substance Use in Early Adolescence. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This project examined childhood temperament as a predictor of substance use in early adolescence. Many previous studies of temperament and substance use were cross-sectional, and thus could not address the direction of this relationship. Previous longitudinal studies did not address childhood temperament as a risk factor for substance use. In addition, many studies only considered a small number of covariates of substance use. This study improved on previous studies by collecting childhood temperament data at ages when substance use is rare, and addressing the direction of this relationship. In addition, substance use data were collected in early adolescence and other covariates were analyzed. The data were from a longitudinal, epidemiological study of the effects of prenatal substance use, and included covariates of substance use such as maternal substance use and psychiatric symptoms, child psychiatric symptoms, and family history of substance use problems. Temperament was measured at ages 6 and 10 using the Emotionality, Activity, Sociability, and Shyness Survey (Buss & Plomin, 1984). Substance use outcomes were measured at age 14 with the Health Behavior Questionnaire (Jessor, Donovan, & Costa, 1989), which measures the quantity and frequency of substance use, including cigarettes, alcohol, and marijuana. Increased sociability and increased activity at age 6 predicted ever having tried a cigarette by age 14. This relationship remained significant when controlling for other relevant covariates. Temperament at ages 6 and 10 did not predict alcohol, marijuana, or polysubstance use outcomes, although increased sociability did predict escalation of marijuana use. This project also identified common and unique predictors of the initiation and escalation of use of specific substances.Children with high levels of activity and sociability at age 6 are at increased risk for substance use in early adolescence. The public health importance of these findings is that parents or teachers can easily identify these traits at young ages. Prevention efforts may then be aimed at these children starting in early elementary school in the hopes of reducing and delaying the initiation of their substance use in adolescence. These results may also be used to tailor prevention and intervention efforts to use of specific substances.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Thomas, Carrie
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairRichardson, Gale Agar@pitt.eduGAR
Committee MemberMolina, Brooke Smolinab@upmc.eduBROOKEM
Committee MemberDonovan, John Edonovanje@upmc.eduJDONOVAN
Committee MemberDay, Nancy Lnday@pitt.eduNDAY
Committee MemberDay, Richard Drdfac@pitt.eduRDFAC
Date: 25 September 2006
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 22 June 2006
Approval Date: 25 September 2006
Submission Date: 2 August 2006
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Public Health > Epidemiology
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: adolescence; childhood; substance use; temperament
Other ID:, etd-08022006-125116
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:56
Last Modified: 19 Dec 2016 14:36


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