Using Participatory Methods to Enhance Youth Engagement in Substance Use Research

Elizabeth S. Valdez, Luis Valdez, David O. Garcia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Youth engagement in substance use research is critical to the understanding of correlates that lead to detrimental health and social outcomes for adolescents. In addition to the documented challenges related to youth recruitment for substance use research, Latinx youth living on the U.S.–Mexico border may be difficult for researchers to engage in substance use research because they could face retributory harm if they identify their experiences to any entity perceived as an authority (e.g., researchers). Empirical findings that posit viable strategies to engage marginalized youth in substance use research are lacking. Participatory approaches show promise in increasing participation of historically underrepresented youth in research. Building on previously published work on our youth participatory action research mixed-methods study, this article discusses the youth-led participatory approach used to (1) develop and pilot test a culturally, regionally, and linguistically tailored substance use instrument and (2) engage 445 Latinx youth to participate in a cross-sectional study to assess epidemiological patterns of youth substance use on the U.S.–Mexico border. We share lessons learned related to the youth-led instrument design, youth-led recruitment strategy, and assuring participant confidentiality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)747-749
Number of pages3
JournalHealth promotion practice
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2021


  • Latino
  • child/adolescent health
  • community-based participatory research
  • health disparities
  • health research
  • minority health
  • partnerships/coalitions
  • rural health
  • school health
  • substance use

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Nursing (miscellaneous)


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