Let our voices be heard: Urban minority adolescents share their perspectives regarding substance abuse and HIV/AIDS prevention messages

Robert J. Reid, Pauline Garcia-Reid, Brad Forenza, Caitlin Eckert, Melissa Carrier, Stephanie Drag

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Purpose. This study explored the substance abuse and human immunodeficiency virus prevention needs of urban minority adolescents.

Design. Six 1-hour focus groups.

Setting. Two high schools and two community-based organizations located in the city of Paterson, New Jersey.

Participants. The sample included 41 African-American and Latino youth, ranging in ages from 13 to 18 years.

Method. Data were collected through six focus group interviews. Each group discussion was audiorecorded and transcribed. Qualitative software was then used to facilitate the processes of thematic analysis, until emergent themes transcended the data. To bolster the rigor and confirmability of analysis, additional researchers coded stratified selections of transcript.

Results. Study participants were able to identify the environmental threats and structural deficits impacting their city. Few of the youth were able to recognize substance abuse and HIV/AIDS prevention messages in their immediate surroundings. Additionally, most participants indicated that prevention messages must be delivered in authentic ways from relatable sources in order to resonate with their audience.

Conclusion. Our findings emphasize the importance of infusing the adolescents' voices into the design and implementation of health promotion messages, which could serve to increase their receptivity and responsiveness, and the overall resonance of the interventions. (Am J Health Promot 2014;29[2]:107- 114.).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)107-114
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Health Promotion
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2014


  • Community empowerment
  • Focus groups
  • Health focus: social health
  • Local community
  • Outcome measure: behavioral
  • Prevention research. manuscript format: research
  • Race/ethnicity
  • Racial and ethnic minority youth
  • Research purpose: descriptive
  • Risk and protective factors
  • Setting: school
  • Strategy: built environment
  • Study design: qualitative
  • Substance abuse and hiv/aids health promotion messages
  • Target population age: youth
  • Target population circumstances: geographic location


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