The Impact of Racism on Trajectories of Substance Use, Mental Health and Legal System Contact from Adolescence to Young Adulthood (EPICC-2)

The objective of this study is to examine the association between structural racism and discrimination (SRD) and longitudinal health and legal inequities among justice involved youth (JIY) from adolescence into young adulthood. We propose to use an existing adolescent longitudinal dataset from our team’s recent study Project EPICC (R01DA035438) in which we followed 401 youth (average age 14.5 years; 55% ethnoracial minority), for the 24 months following first ever contact with a statewide juvenile court system to examine trajectories of youth substance use, psychiatric symptoms, HIV/STI risk behaviors and recidivism. Project EPICC-2 will be guided by the Ecodevelopmental theory by incorporating macro-level measurement of structural factors (racism, sexism, economic inequality), and expanding measures of individual and cultural discrimination. This study integrates multiple data sources (survey, focus group, interviews, and administrative health services), analytic methodologies (quantitative and qualitative), multi-informant perspectives (YA and caregiver, herein referred to as “dyads”) from a population for whom understanding patterns of intergenerational impact of SRD on health and legal outcomes is essential. EPICC-2 prioritizes an intersectional and strengths-based approach to inform the development of individual, family, and structural-level interventions to reduce health and legal disparities for ethnoracial minoritized JIY.

Epidemiological Project Involving Children in the Court (EPICC)

Project EPICC (Epidemiological Project Involving Children in the Court) was funded by the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA; R01DA034538). The purpose of Project EPICC was to learn more about substance use, HIV/STI risk behavior, psychiatric symptom, and legal outcome trajectories of first-time offending, court-involved, non-incarcerated juveniles in the northeastern region of the United States. To do this, Project EPICC followed 400 dyads (juvenile and a caregiver/parent) over 24 months to complete a computerized assessment (every four months) of adolescent risk behaviors and family, community, neighborhood, and cultural factors that can impact their short and long-term outcomes. Information collected from the project aimed to help guide the development of early public health interventions for court-involved juveniles at their first point of contact with the juvenile court system.