Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Nursing Science

Dissertation Committee

Rosemary T. Goodyear, RN, EdD, Chairperson; Patricia W. Anderson, PhD; June S. Lowenberg, RN, PhD


adolescents, Circumplex Model of Marital and Family Systems, family, Substance Abuse


This study utilized an explanatory correlational design to examine the relationship which exists between the predictor variables of adolescent's perception of family adaptation, cohesion, and communication, parental use of substances, adolescent age and gender and the criterion variables of adolescent behavioral intention and self-reported use of alcohol, tobacco, and illicit drugs. The theoretical perspectives of the study, derived from developmental theory and the Circumplex Model of Marital and Family Systems viewed the adolescent stage as a period in which the entire family is challenged to balance levels of adaptation and cohesion in order to facilitate individuation and autonomy of adolescent members. Use of controlled substances by adolescents are considered behaviors which may be influenced by patterns of interaction within the family system. The sample consisted of 306 male and female high school students. Following consent from the student and at least one parent the adolescent was asked to complete four paper and pencil questionnaires. These questionnaires included the Demographic Survey; the Primary Prevention Awareness, Attitude and Usage Scale; the FACES III; and the Parent-Adolescent Communication Scale. Utilizing measures of central tendency and canonical correlation, the data analysis statistically addressed the relationships between the two variables sets. The findings indicated that balanced levels of family functioning and low usage of substances by parents has a strong relationship with decreased substance use by adolescents. Conversely, non-balanced families and those in which parents use substances more often, are families in which the adolescents are more likely to use substances. Age and gender had no significant relation to adolescent substance use or levels of family functioning. Family adaptation, cohesion and communication, and parental role modeling are variables that appear to have a significant impact upon the decisions adolescents make concerning use of alcohol, tobacco products and illicit drugs.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access



Included in

Nursing Commons