Substance Use

Project Title:  Examining the Rural Influence on Nonmedical Prescription Drug Use in a University Population

 Principal Investigator:  Dr. Claire Robb (College of Public Health)
Co-Investigators:  Dr. Bettye Apenteng (Public Health), Emily Eisenhart (Public Health), Daniel Linder (Public Health), and Jamie Samuels (Public Health)



Background and purpose:  Over the past decade, the prevalence of prescription drug misuse and abuse has increased dramatically, particularly in young adults age 18-25. Research indicates that young adults living in rural communities are more likely than their urban counterparts to abuse prescription drugs.  The Purpose of this research it twofold: 1) to examine the prevalence rates and correlates of nonmedical prescription drug use among college students on a rural southeastern college campus, and 2) to examine environmental factors, specifically coming from a rural environment (vs. urban) and living in a rural college environment have on students’ current collegiate nonmedical prescription drug use (NMPDU) and the perceptions of this use.


Methods and measures:  Participants (n=887) will be drawn from a representative sample of undergraduate students at Georgia Southern University.  We will use a mixed-methods study design including focus groups and survey research using questionnaires.  Qualitative/grounded theory using triangulation to identify themes that emerge from transcriptions of focus groups will be used to inform the survey component. Self-report of NMPDU and self-report perception/attitude data from the questionnaires will be entered into a database and will be analyzed using logistic regression.


Expected outcomes: Because there is little data on the target populations, and because of our mixed-method and semi-qualitative approach, our study is chiefly exploratory in nature. Based on the review of the literature, we expect that individuals coming from rural backgrounds will have higher prevalence of NMPDU among younger college cohorts. We expect that, because of lower prevalence of NMPDU among urban youth, that the rural college environment may have a greater effect on college students coming from an urban environment, thus creating an equalizing effect on older college cohorts. We anticipate that there may be problems with confounding variables, in particular being able to isolate rural effects as to (a) whether the main effect comes from a college students’ rural background or (b) if the rural effect is due to the student now living in a rural environment. We hope to find a way to isolate variables after focus group analysis.

Last updated: 9/26/2014

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