Effects of risk perception of marijuana use on marijuana use and intentions to use among adolescents in Bogotá, Colombia

Catalina Lopez-Quintero*, Yehuda Neumark

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


Background: Perceived risk is a key concept of behavioral theories used to predict substance use among youth and a core component of drug use prevention interventions. The present study aimed to (1) assess degrees of risk perception of regular marijuana use, (2) identify factors associated with risk perception, and (3) explore the associations between perceived risk and marijuana use and intentions to use marijuana among school-attending adolescents in Bogotá, Colombia. Methods: Data from 2079 standardized questionnaires administered in 23 schools were analyzed in this study. Schools were selected in a multi-stage probability cluster sample to reflect the socio-economic characteristics of Bogotá's student population. Results: Just over 11% of participants perceived regular marijuana use to be a low risk behavior. Older age (>16 years) (adjusted odds ratio=2.9; 95% confidence interval=1.4-6.0) and low level of knowledge regarding the physical and psychological harms of illegal drugs (AOR=2.9; 95%CI=2.0-4.3) were the strongest predictors of low risk perception, Low perceived risk was also significantly associated with ever having used marijuana (AOR=2.5; 95%CI=1.7-3.7), monthly marijuana use among ever marijuana users (AOR=2.7; 95%CI=1.4-5.0), and a positive intention to use marijuana within the next 12 months among non-users (AOR=2.1; 95%CI=1.4-3.5). Conclusions: Consistent with previous findings, perceiving regular marijuana use as a risky behavior functions as a protective factor against the intention to use, use and occasional use of marijuana. Incorporation of this message into drug use prevention activities for non-users and early-stage users may enhance their effectiveness.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)65-72
Number of pages8
JournalDrug and Alcohol Dependence
Issue number1-3
StatePublished - Jun 2010

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The preparation, development of this work was funded by a Milstein Doctoral Training Fellowship to C. Lopez-Quintero at the Hebrew University-Hadassah Braun School of Public Health and Community Medicine. Additional funds for data analyses were provided by the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD) and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) through the NIDA/CICAD Competitive Research Award Fund. The funding sources had no further role in the study design; in the collection, analysis and interpretation of data; in the writing of the report or in the decision to submit the paper for publication.


  • Adolescents
  • Intentions to use marijuana
  • Marijuana
  • Perceived risk


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