Substance Use Among American Indian Youth: Epidemiology and Etiology, [United States], 2015-2020 (ICPSR 37997)

Version Date: May 19, 2021 View help for published

Principal Investigator(s): View help for Principal Investigator(s)
Randall C. Swaim, Colorado State University; Linda R. Stanley, Colorado State University

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This study is a continuation of an ongoing 40+ year surveillance effort assessing the levels and patterns of substance use among American Indian (AI) adolescents attending schools on or near reservations. The current set of data is from the most recent funding cycle, 2015-2020. During this funding cycle, annual samples across various geographic regions in which reservation-based AI residents reside were obtained and school-based surveys were completed. In addition to the annual epidemiology of substance use, data pertaining to risk and protective factors, including cultural-ethnic identity, perceived discrimination, family factors, and individual risk and protective factors were obtained. It should be noted that two major changes were made during this funding cycle:

1) The wording of substance use variables was altered to mirror wording from Monitoring the Future to allow for direct comparisons between the two studies.

2) All data during this funding cycle were obtained online using Qualtrics.

Swaim, Randall C., and Stanley, Linda R. Substance Use Among American Indian Youth: Epidemiology and Etiology, [United States], 2015-2020. Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2021-05-19.

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United States Department of Health and Human Services. National Institutes of Health. National Institute on Drug Abuse (R01 DA00371)


Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research
2015 -- 2020
2016-05-09 -- 2020-02-20

This study was part of an ongoing surveillance of the levels and patterns of substance abuse among American Indian (AI) adolescents who attended schools on or near AI reservations. The purpose was to accurately describe the epidemiology of substance use, observe changes over time, and to assess trends. In addition to substance use epidemiology, a secondary purpose was to investigate the etiology of substance use. Various risk factors associated with adolescent substance use are included in the survey.

Approximately 3 weeks prior to the scheduled survey, letters were sent to parents of enrolled students in grades 7 and above describing the survey and providing instructions for opting their child out of the survey. This information was also posted on other local media sites, where parents were likely to see it. The OYOF survey was administered online to students using Qualtrics software. School staff read directions prior to survey administration indicating that students could decline to participate or leave blank any questions they did not wish to answer, and these instructions were repeated in the online survey. Staff were instructed to remain in an area of the room where they cannot observe student responses. All survey responses were collected anonymously, and all procedures were approved by the university institutional review board.

The sampling frame was built from three primary sources - the NCES Common Core of Data (CCD), the NCES Private School Universe Survey (PPS), and the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) National Directory. The final sampling frame including schools with grade 7 were included in the sampling frame and the high school fed by each sampled middle school are included in the final sampling frame. Criteria used for searching CCD and PPS are: 1) at least 20% AI enrollment and 2) a total enrollment of at least 20 students. Where enrollment numbers were not available, schools were contacted for this information. The sampling frame was then further refined by including only schools on or within 25 miles of an AI reservation or designated tribal lands. These same criteria were used for BIE schools. Prior to the start of a school year, schools within each region were randomly drawn from the sampling frame.


The sampling frame was built from three primary sources - the NCES Common Core of Data (CCD), the NCES Private School Universe Survey (PPS), and the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) National Directory. The final sampling frame contained 365 schools that included a grade seven or above, located on or within 25 miles of a reservation or tribal lands, with at least 20% AI students enrolled. Schools outside the continental US were excluded.


This study includes variables regarding participants' drug and alcohol use, their way of life, their cultural and ethnic beliefs, and instances of discrimination against them.

The average participation rate of students in schools was 81%, which compares favorably to Monitoring the Future's (MTF) 8th, 10th, and 12th grade participation rates of 89%, 86%, and 81%, respectively (Some OYOF schools do not provide enrollment by grade; thus we are only able to compute combined participation for all grades surveyed). Of note, there were fewer grade 12 students than in the younger grades. This was due primarily to levels of drop-outs, which were consistent with MTF levels.

For more information about scales, see the "List of Scales" documentation.



2021-05-19 ICPSR data undergo a confidentiality review and are altered when necessary to limit the risk of disclosure. ICPSR also routinely creates ready-to-go data files along with setups in the major statistical software formats as well as standard codebooks to accompany the data. In addition to these procedures, ICPSR performed the following processing steps for this data collection:

  • Performed recodes and/or calculated derived variables.


  • The public-use data files in this collection are available for access by the general public. Access does not require affiliation with an ICPSR member institution.