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Open Access Research article

Does Chinese culture influence psychosocial factors for heroin use among young adolescents in China? A cross-sectional study

Hongjie Liu1*, Jian Li1, Zhouping Lu2, Wei Liu3 and Zhiyong Zhang2

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Epidemiology and Community Health, School of Medicine, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA, USA

2 School of Public Health, Guangxi Medical University, Nanning, Guangxi, China

3 Guangxi Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Nanning, Guangxi, China

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BMC Public Health 2010, 10:563  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-10-563

Published: 21 September 2010

Abstract

Background

Little empirical research has examined how cultural factors influence psychosocial factors for heroin drug use. The objectives of the study were to investigate the levels of individualism and collectivism among young adolescents and how cultural differences were associated with the constructs of the Theory of Planned Behavior and other psychosocial factors for heroin drug use.

Methods

A cross-sectional study was conducted among young adolescents in an HIV and heroin-stricken area in China. The Individualism-Collectivism Interpersonal Assessment Inventory (ICIAI) was used to measure cultural norms and values in the context of three social groups: family members, close friends, and classmates.

Results

A total of 220 boys and 241 girls were recruited and participated in an interview. Compared to boys, girls reported higher levels of the three specific-relationship ICIAIs, as well as higher levels of perceived behavioral control for heroin use, perceived peer control, and communication with parent about heroin use, but a lower level of favorable attitude towards heroin use. The levels of descriptive and subjective norms of heroin use were low in both girls and boys. Among boys, family ICIAI was positively associated with perceived behavioral control, and friend ICIAI was positively associated with perceived peer control and communication with parent. Among girls, family ICIAI was positively associated with perceived behavioral control and communication with parents about heroin use, but negatively with favorable attitudes to heroin use; friend ICIAI was positively associated with perceived peer control, and classmate ICIAI was negatively associated with favorable attitudes toward heroin use.

Conclusions

This study documents that collectivistic aspects of Chinese culture may influence psychosocial factors for heroin use, although the patterns are varied by gender. Findings provide an empirical basis for the development of culturally competent intervention programs for heroin use intervention and prevention.