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Open Access Research article

Association between substance use and psychosocial characteristics among adolescents of the Seychelles

Heba Alwan1, Bharathi Viswanathan2, Valentin Rousson1, Fred Paccaud1 and Pascal Bovet12*

Author Affiliations

1 Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine (IUMSP), University Hospital Center and University of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland

2 Ministry of Health, Section of Non Communicable Diseases, Victoria, Republic of Seychelles

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BMC Pediatrics 2011, 11:85  doi:10.1186/1471-2431-11-85

Published: 11 October 2011



We examined the associations between substance use (cigarette smoking, alcohol drinking, and cannabis use) and psychosocial characteristics at the individual and family levels among adolescents of the Seychelles, a rapidly developing small island state in the African region.


A school survey was conducted in a representative sample of 1432 students aged 11-17 years from all secondary schools. Data came from a self-administered anonymous questionnaire conducted along a standard methodology (Global School-based Health Survey, GSHS). Risk behaviors and psychosocial characteristics were dichotomized. Association analyses were adjusted for a possible classroom effect.


The prevalence of cigarette smoking, alcohol drinking and cannabis use was higher in boys than in girls and increased with age. Age-adjusted and multivariate analyses showed that several individual level characteristics (e.g. suicidal ideation and truancy) and family level characteristics (e.g. poor parental monitoring) were associated with substance use among students.


Our results suggest that health promotion programs should simultaneously address multiple risk behaviors and take into account a wide range of psychosocial characteristics of the students at the individual and family levels.