A Potential Protective Factor Against Substance Use and Other Risk Behaviors Among Latino Adolescents

Published in: Academic Pediatrics, 2016

Posted on on February 02, 2016

by Lourdes R. Guerrero, Rebecca N. Dudovitz, Paul J. Chung, Kulwant K. Dosanjh, Mitchell D. Wong

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PURPOSE: Grit, defined as "working strenuously toward challenges, maintaining effort and interest over years despite failure, adversity, and plateaus in progress," is strongly associated with academic achievement and life success and may also be associated with health outcomes and behaviors. We examined predictors of grit, and the association between grit and health behaviors among at-risk Latino adolescents. METHODS: We analyzed baseline survey data collected in 2013-2014 from a sample of 1,270 9th graders in low-income neighborhoods of Los Angeles. We examined factors associated with grit and whether grit is associated with substance use and delinquent behaviors, controlling for adolescent and parent sociodemographic factors. RESULTS: In a sample of mostly Latino adolescents (89.5%), compared to those with low grit, those with high grit had significantly lower odds of alcohol use in the last 30 days (OR=0.30, p<0.001), marijuana use (OR=0.21, p<0.05), and fighting (OR=0.58, p<0.05). Involvement in delinquent behavior was also lower (β=-0.71, p<.001). Factors associated with more grit included authoritative parenting style, parental employment, and high self-efficacy scores. CONCLUSION: Grit may be an important candidate protective factor against substance use and other risk behaviors among Latino adolescents.

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