A photo of three adolescents sitting side-by-side on long, stone steps. This photo is used as a primary banner image representing the Flint Adolescent Study.

Who We Are

The Flint Adolescent Study is a longitudinal interview study of risk and promotive factors associated with alcohol, tobacco and other drug use across a lifetime.

The study is led by Marc Zimmerman, PhD, Director of the Prevention Research Center and the Michigan Youth Violence Prevention Center at the University of Michigan School of Public Health.  Hsing-Fang Hsieh, PhD, Research Investigator at the UM School of Public Health  is the Project Director. Data is collected by the Michigan Public Health Institute.

The Flint Adolescent Study and Flint Adolescent Study- Generation 2 are funded by the National Institute of Drug Abuse.

Our Story

In 1994, we recruited a cohort of 850 youth from the Flint Community Schools. We followed the sample of predominantly African American youth for 4 years in high school (1994-1998), 4 years after high school as they experienced the transition to young adulthood (1999-2003), and another 4 years during their late twenties as they experienced middle adult transition (2008-2012).

The original goal of the study was to explore the promotive factors associated with school dropout and ATOD use across their four high school years. Over the years, we explored additional risk and promotive factors and health outcomes including:

  • participation in church, school and community organizations
  • social support and influence of family and friends (including mentoring)
  • self-esteem, stress and psychological well-being
  • delinquent and violent behaviors; alcohol and substance abuse
  • sex behaviors and child-bearing
  • school attitudes and performance
  • family structure and relationships
  • driving behavior (beginning in Years 3 & 4)
  • racial identity (beginning in Year 3)
  • marriage, parenting, and post-secondary education (beginning in Year 5)

Now in their 30’s, FAS participants are parents to over 400 children aged 5-16 years old. The Flint Adolescent Study – Generation 2 expands on the scope of the original study to explore how parenting factors are associated with children’s alcohol and drug use and other risk factors.

Resiliency Framework

The Flint Adolescent Study uses a resiliency framework to examine assets and risks among young African American adolescents.  This approach is unique because unlike many other studies that often focus on the vulnerability and risk in African American samples, we focus on assets and resources and the positive aspects of African American youth. The resiliency framework provides a theoretical basis for exploring the strengths in youth’s lives and indicating how they may overcome the odds of any number of risk factors for alcohol and drug use.

The study contributes to our understanding of positive factors that may help youth avoid the negative effects of risks they face.  This is a significant benefit because it will help us learn about healthy development in the face of adversity, and has helped inform prevention strategies that build upon strengths in youths’ lives rather than only ameliorate risks.

How has the data been used?

The study has resulted in a rich dataset which includes individual and family characteristics over time as well as neighborhood level variables (e.g., census tract, police incident data, community survey data).

The FAS dataset has resulted in over 85 peer-reviewed publications, 7 book chapters, 10 dissertations, and numerous national and international conferences presentations.  FAS data were used to guide the development of prevention programs that have been implemented across the U.S. and as a vital resource for training students and professionals from undergraduate to early career faculty.

In many ways, FAS stands as a model for a federally funded program of research that is the basis for knowledge development, training, and translation of basic research for prevention. Few studies have achieved as much success in each of these domains.