Community influences on adolescents' use of home-brewed alcohol in rural South Africa.
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© The Author(s). 2012 Published in BMC Public Health. This article is published under the Open Access publishing model and distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/. Please refer to the licence to obtain terms for any further reuse or distribution of this work.
Alcohol represents a major public health challenge in South Africa, however little is known about the correlates of alcohol use among rural adolescents. This article examines community influences on adolescents' use of home-brewed alcohol in a rural region of South Africa. A total of 1600 high school adolescents between 11 and 16 years of age participated in this study. Seven hundred and forty (46.3%) were female and 795 (49.7%) were male. Data on gender were missing for 65 students (4.0% of the sample). The age range was 11-29 years (mean age 16.4 years; Standard deviation = 2.79). A survey questionnaire on adolescent risk behavior that examined adolescents' use of alcohol and various potential community influences on alcohol use was administered. Factor analysis was used to group community-level variables into factors. Multiple logistic regression techniques were then used to examine associations between these community factors and adolescents' use of home-brewed alcohol. The factor analysis yielded five community-level factors that accounted for almost two-thirds of the variance in home-brewed alcohol use. These factors related to subjective adult norms around substance use in the community, negative opinions about one's neighborhood, perceived levels of adult antisocial behavior in the community, community affirmations of adolescents, and perceived levels of crime and violence in the community (derelict neighborhood). In the logistic regression model, community affirmation was negatively associated with the use of home-brew, whereas higher scores on "derelict neighborhood" and "adult antisocial behavior" were associated with greater odds of drinking home-brew. Findings highlight community influences on alcohol use among rural adolescents in South Africa. Feeling affirmed and valued by the broader community appears to protect adolescents against early alcohol use. In contrast, perceptions of high levels of adult anti-social behavior and crime and violence in the community are significant risks for early alcohol initiation. Implications of these findings for the prevention of alcohol use among adolescents in rural communities are discussed.
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