Monday, March 7, 2016

Application of a Brief Measure of Delay Discounting to Examine the Relationship Between Delay Discounting and the Initiation of Substance Use among Adolescents

Higher rate of Delay Discounting (DD) is associated with increased risk for the initiation and development of substance use disorders in adolescents.

This study aimed to provide a preliminary assessment of the validity of a brief self-report measure of DD by examining discounting rates across 3 periods of increasing delay and subsequently examining the extent to which overall DD scores are associated with having initiated tobacco, alcohol and cannabis use.

Data were collected in the 2012 fall cycle of the British Columbia Adolescent Substance Use Survey. The sample consisted of 1,143 adolescents (61% female) in grades 10 and 11. A brief self-report measure of DD was developed to assess the tendency of adolescents to discount a delayed monetary reward of $100 over a period of 1-year, 1-month, and 1-week. The area under the curve was calculated for each participant's DD responses and coded into quartiles.

The amount of discounting increased as reward delay increased from 1-week to 1-month to 1-year. Compared to participants in the lowest DD quartile, being in the second, third, or fourth quartile was associated with significantly greater odds of having initiated tobacco use, binge drinking, and cannabis use after controlling for sex, age, maternal education, and ethnicity.

These results provide preliminary support for the validity of the brief measure of DD presented in this study and support the emerging body of evidence suggesting that DD is an important indicator of increased risk for the initiation of substance use among adolescents.

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  • 1 School of Population and Public Health, University of British Columbia , Vancouver , Canada.
  • 2 Department of Psychiatry , University of British Columbia , Vancouver , Canada.
  •  2016 Mar 4:1-5.

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