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Normative perceptions of cannabis use amongst European University students: associations between perceived peer use and peer attitudes with personal use and attitudes.

DEMPSEY, Robert and McAlaney, John and Helmer, Stefanie and Pischke, Claudia and Akvardar, Yildiz and Bewick, Bridgette and Fawkner, Helen and Guillen-Grima, Francisco and Stock, Christiane and Vriesacker, Bart and Van Hal, Guido and Salonna, Ferdinand and Kalina, Ondrej and Orosova, Olga and Mikolajczyk, Rafael (2016) Normative perceptions of cannabis use amongst European University students: associations between perceived peer use and peer attitudes with personal use and attitudes. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 77 (5). pp. 740-748. ISSN 1937-1888 (In Press)

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Abstract or description

Objective
Perceptions of peer behavior and attitudes exert considerable social pressure on young adults to use substances. This study investigated whether European students perceive their peers’ cannabis use and approval of cannabis use to be higher than their own personal behaviors and attitudes, and whether estimations of peer use and attitudes are associated with personal use and attitudes.
Method
University students (n = 4131) from Belgium, Denmark, Germany, the Slovak Republic, Spain, Turkey and the United Kingdom completed an online survey as part of the Social Norms Intervention for Polysubstance usE in students (SNIPE) project, a feasibility study of a web-based normative feedback intervention for substance use. The survey assessed students’ (1) personal substance use and attitudes, and (2) perceptions of their peers’ cannabis use (descriptive norms) and attitudes (injunctive norms).
Results
Although most respondents (92%) did not personally use cannabis in the past two months, the majority of students thought that the majority of their peers were using cannabis and that their peers had more permissive attitudes towards cannabis than themselves. Controlling for students’ age, sex, study year and religious beliefs, perceived peer descriptive norms were associated with personal cannabis use (OR: 1.42; 95% CI: 1.22, 1.64) and perceived injunctive norms were associated with personal attitudes towards cannabis use (OR: 1.46; 95% CI: 1.09, 1.94).

Conclusions
European students appear to possess similar discrepancies between personal and perceived peer norms for cannabis use and attitudes as found in North American students. Interventions which address such discrepancies may be effective in reducing cannabis use.

Item Type: Article
Faculty: Previous Faculty of Health Sciences > Psychology, Sport and Exercise
Depositing User: Robert DEMPSEY
Date Deposited: 01 Jun 2016 11:55
Last Modified: 01 Oct 2017 01:38
URI: http://eprints.staffs.ac.uk/id/eprint/2334

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