Date of Award

Summer 8-2021

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Chair

Randolph Arnau, PhD

Committee Chair School


Committee Member 2

Bradley Green, PhD

Committee Member 2 School


Committee Member 3

Nora Charles, PhD

Committee Member 3 School


Committee Member 4

Richard Mohn, PhD

Committee Member 4 School



The present study utilized archival data provided from the Minnesota Student Survey (2013). The study consisted of two levels of analysis. The first level involved the development of measurement models for various latent constructs (i.e., disaffiliation, normalized use, internalizing behaviors, and externalizing behaviors). Utilizing Structural Equation Modeling (SEM), the second level applied the observed (i.e., abuse) and measured latent variables to the prediction of the outcomes of interest (i.e., a latent variable estimate of substance use) for middle- and high school-aged youth. Models for adolescent girls and boys were examined separately based on sex and high vs low protective factors. It was hypothesized that the exogenous latent variables (i.e., abuse, normalized use, and disaffiliation) and endogenous mediating latent variables (i.e., internalizing behaviors and externalizing behaviors) would predict substance use problems in the four samples. Primarily, it was found that in both boys and girls with higher protective factors, there is a stronger direct negative relationship between disaffiliation and substance use, but stronger positive indirect effects through externalizing behaviors. Paradoxically, the groups with higher protective factors seemed more vulnerable to substance use problems when higher disaffiliation was mediated by externalizing behaviors. Further elucidating differences across groups in latent variables may help to clarify inconsistencies in the literature and guide intervention implementation to prevent development of substance use problems in those most at risk.