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An exploration into the existence of social norms around substance use among students: a mixed-methods approach

Haith, Charlotte (2014) An exploration into the existence of social norms around substance use among students: a mixed-methods approach. Manchester Metropolitan University. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

This research aims firstly, to develop an understanding of why social norms exist among students for substance use and secondly, to understand from the student’s point of view, the effectiveness of social norms interventions. Using a mixed-method approach it was carried out in two phases. Phase 1 involved a quantitative questionnaire (N=222) to establish descriptive statistic. These results showed student’s overestimate substance use in their peers. Phase 2 used three qualitative focus groups to discuss the findings from the questionnaire and develop an understanding of why social norms exist. Using thematic analysis on the focus group transcripts, three core themes were established: awareness of the norm, drinking in the young and effectiveness of interventions. The analysis highlighted the importance of identity surrounding social norms, along with influences from the media. From this research, it is possible to conclude, that in order to create effective interventions it is necessary to examine what it is that influences behaviours and what is creating social norms.

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