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Funded Research

Monitoring the Future: A Cohort-Sequential Panel Study of Drug Use, Ages 19-60

This application is for a 5-year continuation of the national longitudinal panel data collections of the Monitoring the Future (MTF) study, an ongoing epidemiological and etiological substance use research and reporting project begun in 1975. In addition to being a basic research study, MTF has become one of the nation?s most relied upon sources of information on trends in illicit drug, alcohol, and tobacco use among American adolescents, college students, and adults. This MTF Panel application seeks to continue the follow-up surveys of high school graduates at modal ages 19?30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 55, and now 60. The companion Main grant covers in-school data collections, providing the nationally representative samples of 12th graders for follow up; it also covers data analysis. The Panel and Main components together comprise the integrated MTF study. MTF?s broad measurement covers (a) initiation, use, and cessation for over 50 categories and sub-categories of licit and illicit drugs, including symptoms of substance use disorders; (b) attitudes and beliefs about substances, perceived availability, and peer norms; (c) individual risk and protective factors (e.g., depressive affect, pro-social activities); (d) aspects of key social contexts (e.g., home, work), and social role statuses and transitions; (e) health, social, and achievement consequences; and (f) risk and protective behaviors related to the spread of HIV/AIDS. The cohort-sequential longitudinal design permits the measurement and differentiation of three types of change?age, period, and cohort. Each has different determinants, and all three types of change have been shown by MTF to occur for most drugs. Factors that may explain historical trends and cohort differences are also monitored; additional factors come from other data that can be (and have been) combined with MTF data in collaborative efforts. MTF Panel is designed to document the developmental course and consequences of drug use and related attitudes from adolescence through adulthood (ages 18-60), and to determine the individual and contextual characteristics and social role transitions that affect use and related attitudes as well a broad array of adult consequences. Research on risk and protective behaviors for the transmission of HIV/AIDS will be continued and expanded to include adults aged 19-40. All of this work will be extended to new data collection years, cohorts, and ages under this application. Substance use among the nation?s current college students and non-college youth will be tracked for another five years, totaling 40 years. The long-term follow-up data will now include age 60 surveys of cohorts who were in high school during historic peaks in teen substance use, especially important for understanding how earlier and ongoing substance use and abuse relates to declining health in middle to older adulthood. Impacts of policy changes will be evaluated, including state-level legalization of marijuana for recreational use. The investigators will complete current experiments on the utility of web-based follow-up survey methods and implement a remote data portal to allow access to MTF data by external researchers. Results will continue to elucidate drug use from adolescence through adulthood?including the use of new drugs and modalities?with important implications for national policy, research, prevention, and treatment agendas. As our nation progresses toward marijuana legalization and as electronic vaporizers gain popularity, the need to understand young through middle adult trends and consequences on health, well-being and work and family life has never been greater.


Health and Human Services, Department of-National Institutes of Health

Funding Period:

05/01/2017 to 03/31/2022