Psychiatric disorder symptoms, substance use, and sexual risk behavior among African-American out of school youth

Alezandria K. Turner*, Carl Latkin, Freya Sonenstein, S. Darius Tandon

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Purpose: To examine the association between symptoms of psychiatric disorder (i.e. depression, anxiety, and substance use) and sexual risk behavior in a sample of African-American adolescents and young adults in an employment training program. Methods: Baseline data were used from a pilot study of an intervention to reduce depressive symptoms among youth disconnected from school and the workforce. Participants were recruited from two employment training programs in East and West Baltimore (N=617; age 16-23 years). Data were collected through audio computer-assisted self-interview (ACASI). Mental health indicators were measured using the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale and Beck Anxiety Inventory. Multivariate logistic regression was used to determine the odds of sexual risk behavior for each mental health condition and combinations of conditions. Results: Lack of condom use at last sex was significantly associated with elevated anxiety symptoms. Number of sexual partners was associated with elevated depression symptoms and substance use. Early sexual debut was associated with substance use in the past 30 days. Also, there were differences in the likelihood of engaging in sexual risk behavior comparing groups with different combinations of mental health problems to those with no symptoms of disorder or substance use. Conclusions: The results demonstrate the need for HIV prevention programs that target out-of-school youth, as they are likely to engage in risky sexual behavior. Our findings highlight the need to develop behavioral interventions that address disorder symptoms, substance use, and risky sexual behavior among youth in employment training programs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)67-73
Number of pages7
JournalDrug and Alcohol Dependence
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - May 1 2011


  • Depressive symptoms
  • HIV
  • Risky sexual behavior
  • Student dropouts
  • Substance use

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)
  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology


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