Cognitive coping moderates the association between violent victimization by peers and substance use among adolescents

Sonya S. Brady, Jeanne M. Tschann, Lauri A. Pasch, Elena Flores, Emily J. Ozer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Objective: This study tested whether violent victimization by peers was associated with alcohol and tobacco use among adolescents, and whether adaptive coping styles moderated associations. MethodsA total of 247 urban Mexican-American and European-American adolescents aged 1620 years were interviewed. Results: Independent of demographics and violent perpetration, adolescents victimized by violence reported greater alcohol and tobacco use. Adolescents who engaged in higher levels of behavioral coping (e.g., problem solving) reported less substance use, independent of violence variables. Interaction effects showed that violent victimization was associated with greater substance use only among adolescents who engaged in lower levels of cognitive coping (e.g., focusing on positive aspects of life). Substance use was relatively low among adolescents who engaged in higher levels of cognitive coping, regardless of whether they had been victimized. Conclusions: Enhancement of cognitive coping skills may prevent engagement in substance use as a stress response to violent victimization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)304-310
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of pediatric psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 2009

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank the UCSF Health Psychology Postdoctoral Fellows Research Group for feedback on an early version of this article. We are also grateful to Lilia Cardenas, Martha Castrillo, Jorge Palacios, Philip Pantoja, and Stephanie Whitzell for assistance with data collection, and to Seth Duncan and Philip Pantoja for data management. This research was supported by grants MNCJ-060623 and R40MC00118 from the Maternal and Child Health Bureau (Title V, Social Security Act), Health Resources and Services Administration, Department of Health and Human Services, awarded to Dr Tschann. Part of Dr Brady’s work was funded by a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (T32 MH019391) while she was a postdoctoral fellow at UCSF. We would like to thank the families who participated in the Adolescent Health Research Project. We also thank the Kaiser Foundation Research Institute, E. Marco Baisch, and Charles J. Wibbelsman for providing access to members of Kaiser Permanente.


  • Adolescence
  • Coping
  • Stress
  • Substance use
  • Violence


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