Studying Drug-Using Populations in Northern California

Investigator: Kimberly Page, PhD, MPH
Sponsor: California Department of Health Care Services

Location(s): United States


Substance use among youth and young adults continues to pose a variety of public health challenges. Young people who use opiates (heroin) and methamphetamine are more likely to have high risk sexual and injection practices, as well as more likely to be HIV+. Drug use among youth may be associated with a variety of problems including family trauma, academic difficulties, mental and physical health problems, sexual abuse, incarceration, poor peer relationships and violence. Youth in Northern California who are at risk for drug use, HIV and related health problems need to be better understood and targeted for prevention programs. The primary objective of SYNC is to conduct a cross-sectional study of a multi-ethnic sample of substance-using youth, 14-25 years old. This will be done in two phases.
Phase 1: A formative information gathering phase. In 2008, the SYNC Study conducted several types of qualitative, open-ended data collection with eligible youth who agreed to participate. We conducted social mapping focus groups, individual in-depth interviews, brief interviews and “naturalistic observations” where youth agreed to
allow us to observe them in their own communities.
Phase 2: An epidemiological study. In 2009, we will use quantitative surveys to collect numbers and statistics about the prevalence of narcotics and stimulant use in youth and young adults in the 5 counties.