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A Comparison of Peer Influence Measures as Predictors of Smoking Among Predominately Hispanic/Latino High School Adolescents

Published:September 06, 2012DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jadohealth.2012.06.014

      Abstract

      Purpose

      Consistent evidence has shown that one of the most significant influences on adolescent smoking is peer influence. There is considerable variation, however, in how peer influence is measured. This study constructs social network influence and selection variables from egocentric and sociometric data to compare their associations with smoking, with considerations of perceived smoking norms and adolescent popularity.

      Methods

      Longitudinal data were collected in the 9th and 10th grades in October 2006 and 2007 from predominantly Hispanic/Latino adolescents in seven Southern California schools; among these adolescents, 1,950 completed surveys at both waves. Both cross-sectional (separately for 9th and 10th graders) and longitudinal models were estimated.

      Results

      An egocentric measure of perceived friend smoking was strongly and consistently associated with individual smoking (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] ≈ 1.80, p < .001), whereas its sociometric counterpart of friend self-report smoking was only associated with smoking in the 9th-grade cross-sectional models (e.g., AOR = 1.56, p < .001) and rarely in longitudinal models. Popularity, measured by proportion of nominations received by class size, was associated with smoking and becoming a smoker (AOR = 1.67, p < .001), whereas perceived norms were not, in longitudinal models. Friend selection was also associated with becoming a smoker (AOR = 1.32, p = .05).

      Conclusions

      This study illustrates the utility of egocentric data for understanding peer influence and underscores the importance of perceptions and popularity as mechanisms that influence adolescent smoking.

      Keywords

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