Guest Post: Jonathon Erlen’s Dissertation Abstracts

Editor’s Note: Frequent Points readers are aware of Jonathon Erlen’s ongoing bibliography of dissertations related to alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. Entries were formerly published in the Social History of Alcohol and Drugs journal but have since moved to the Points blog. Below are a few highlights from recent years. Contact Dr. Erlen through the link above.

Religious coping as a moderator of the five factor model of personality traits and alcohol abuse severity at six-month follow-up in a Twelve Step treatment sample

Author: Rachel L. Huhra

Institution: University of Akron

Department: Counseling Psychology

Committee: Loreto Prieto (Advisor)

Abstract: Personality traits and religious coping are often viewed by counseling psychologists as strengths that influence how difficult situations are handled. Within the substance abuse literature, both personality traits and religious coping style are proposed to have profound impacts on substance abuse and treatment outcomes. The success of Twelve Step treatment programs is predicated on the notion that treatment works by affecting both “positive” personality changes and use of positive religious coping as means for decreasing substance abuse. However, virtually no empirical research exists to account for the impact of religious coping and personality on treatment outcomes. In contrast, a large literature base exists that examines the roles of personality on substance abuse and treatment outcomes. Because Twelve Step treatments utilize both personality traits and religious coping as means for decreasing substance abuse, an investigation of the unique and shared influence of these factors on treatment outcomes seems appropriate. In this dissertation, I examined the influence of personality factors (Revised NEO Personality Inventory, NEO-PI-R), religious coping (Coping Styles Test, CST), and the possible moderating effect of religious coping on the relationship between personality factors and alcohol abuse severity in a sample of 500 veterans who received a structured Twelve Step group treatment for alcohol abuse at a Midwestern VA hospital. The results of this study were 1) high level expressions of several facets of the NEO-PI-R were associated with decreased alcohol abuse severity six months after formal treatment ended; 2) the use of a Collaborative Religious Coping Style was also associated with decreased alcohol abuse severity after treatment; 3) religious coping style moderated the relation among NEO-PI-R traits and alcohol abuse severity six-months after Twelve Step treatment; and 4) the combined effect of high level expression of the Five Factor Model trait Agreeableness and the use of a Collaborative Religious Coping Style had the greatest impact on decreased alcohol abuse. Therefore, this study provides preliminary support for religious coping as a moderator of the relationship between personality traits and alcohol abuse in a Twelve Step treatment sample.


Pathways to drug use among rural and urban African American adolescents: The mediating and moderating effects of parent and peer influences

Author: Trenette Clark

Institution: Virginia Commonwealth University

Department: Social Work

Committee: Melissa Abell, Faye Belgrave

Abstract: African American adolescents have traditionally engaged in drug use at disproportionately lower rates than youth of other ethnic groups. Nonetheless, African American youth and adults suffer disproportionately higher rates of drug-related consequences. This paradox is a health and social disparity that has been given fair attention but needs additional culturally intelligent theoretical and empirical explanations. Research that targets African American adolescent drug use has emerged but has failed to fully or moderately explain this paradox. The purpose of this study was to fill a gap in the literature by helping to explain the first part of the paradox, African American adolescent drug use. More specifically, this study examined the role of parents and peers in drug use among African American adolescents that live in rural and urban settings. To achieve the goals of the present study, a cross sectional design was used. A purposive sample of 567 African American adolescents completed a paper-and-pen survey. Findings of this study indicate that parental monitoring and peer risky behavior completely mediated the relationship between parental attitudes toward drug use and drug refusal efficacy and partially mediated the relationship between parental attitudes toward drug use and current alcohol use. Only peer risky behavior mediated the relationships between parental attitudes toward drug use and current tobacco and marijuana use. This study also sought to determine the manner by which parenting variables interact with peer risky behavior to influence adolescent drug use. Although parental monitoring was not found to moderate the relationship between peer risky behavior and drug refusal efficacy, it moderated the relationship upon the drug use variables. This study also examined the interaction of demographic characteristics and peer risky behavior upon adolescent drug use. Gender moderated the relationship between peer risky behavior and current marijuana use. Age moderated the relationship between peer risky behavior and current tobacco use. This research helps to explain the process by which parental attitudes toward drug use influence drug refusal efficacy and use. The results suggest that parental attitudes toward drug use has a direct effect on adolescent drug use independent of peer influence. In addition, the results suggest that parents are influential and may be a protective mechanism against the strong influence of risky peers.


Causes and impacts of institutional and structural variation: Globalization in the tobacco and pork industries

Author: Ryan Denniston

Institution: Duke University

Department: Sociology

Committee: Gary Gereffi, David Brady, Bai Gao, Suzanne Shanahan, Kenneth I. Spencer

Abstract: Among the most significant changes to the agricultural sector in the twentieth century include a sharp decline in employment and the numbers of farms, a decline in the proportion of total value that accrues to agricultural producers, and an increase in farm level and regional specialization. Within the U.S., substantial differences in the characteristics of agricultural producers and the spatial distribution of production persist amid industry change. These changes coincided with changes in global markets, domestic consumption, consolidation and concentration within the processing and retailing sectors, and government policy. The causality that lies behind these developments is the key puzzle that this study addresses.

This study advances an institutional explanation of industry formation across locations within the U.S. Differences in industry constitution at the local level produce different impacts of and responses to global markets, reflected by economic changes and policy developments, as actors work to secure stability and advantage in markets (Fligstein 2001). This study uses the global value chains’ definition of the industry, which incorporates the network of actors arrayed along a process of production, to capture the set of actors with the capacity to affect industry operation (Gereffi 1994). An assessment of the relative importance of local economic characteristics, global markets, organization and coordination within industries, and government policies to where production locates in the primary objective of the study.

The pork and non-cigar tobacco industries across several states within the United States from 1959 through 2005 allow for a contrast along the key changes identified above. Within case comparison is used to construct causal narratives of industry change at the state level. Panel and pooled time series analysis assess the relative importance the factors to agricultural change.

Local economic characteristics largely fade from significance with the inclusion of the theoretical perspectives. Total and net trade in agricultural and manufactured products is generally significant across industries for production, although this is not the case for specific tobacco types. The proportion of farms composed of small farms is significant for production and for farm structure in both industries. The presence of manufacture is significant for hog production and could not be assessed for tobacco. While federal policies are broadly significant for the tobacco industry, identified state policies exhibit few consistent effects for hog production. Importantly, farm structure measures were only available for Census years, which reduces sample size. Second, many of the measures are industry-specific, which reduces comparability.