Featured Article: Causal Analysis of How Gang Membership Affects Drug Abuse

November 10, 2014:

dcoffPrevious literature has established that gang membership is associated with higher rates of drug use. In the forthcoming article, “Gang membership and substance use: Guilt as a gendered causal pathway,” in The Journal of Experimental Criminology, Methodology Center Investigator Donna Coffman and two other researchers examine whether anticipated guilt for substance use explains this association. The authors also expand the available set of methods for causal inference when assessing mediation in the presence of moderation and time-varying confounding.


The study demonstrated that substance use guilt is an important factor in drug use among female gang members. As the abstract states, “The onset of gang membership significantly decreased anticipated substance use guilt among both male and female respondents. This reduction was significantly associated with increased frequency of substance use only for female respondents, however, suggesting that gender moderates the mechanism through which gang membership influences substance use.” The authors conclude that interventions to reduce substance use by female gang members should focus on anticipated guilt.


Email mc@psu.edu for a copy of the article.


Coffman, D. L., Melde, C., & Esbensen, F. (2014). Gang membership and substance use: Guilt as a gendered causal pathway. Journal of Experimental Criminology. doi: 10.1007/s11292-014-9220-9

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