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Running head: ARTICLE REVIEW

Article Review: Substance Use Among Native American College Students

Bridget M. Macaluso
University at Buffalo

Article Review: Substance Use Among Native American College Students
Ward and Ridolfo present a study that they claim is independent from any previous
research on Native American college students and substance abuse (2011). This article achieves
the goals that it sets out to accomplish, and does so through relatively sound research. However,
it can be difficult to see what this study offers as new and beneficial information to the student
affairs field. In order to demonstrate the positive and negative aspects of this study, I will begin
by providing a brief summary of the article. After that I will discuss the proper research practices
that are used and the successes of the article, and finally, I will explain the lack of benefit that
this study provides for student affairs practitioners.
The purpose of Ward and Ridolfos study is to determine the difference between the
Native American population of college students and the rest of the college students in the United
States in terms of substance use (2011). Do Native American college students drink alcohol,
smoke, or use drugs more often than the rest of the college population? How is this affected by
the demographics of the Native Americans who are using versus not using substances? The
research uses data provided by the CAS study, which is a survey that was conducted by the
Harvard University School of Public Health in 1993, 1997, 1999, and 2001 (Ward & Ridolfo,
The two main points that Ward and Ridolfo cite in their article are that Native Americans
drink alcohol at a very similar rate to their peers of other races, but that Native Americans do, in
fact, use tobacco and other drugs more often than the rest of the college population (Ward and
Ridolfo, 2011).
Research Practices

Ward and Ridolfo follow the proper methods in conducting their research for this article
(2011). First of all, they chose a research method that provides proper answers to their original
questions. As they look at differences between the amounts of Native American students using
substances versus the rest of the college population, a quantitative study was selected
appropriately (2011). The CAS study is widely used in research, and is accepted as an accurate
depiction of students in the 1990s. I would suggest that using the CAS study is slightly
restricting in an article published in 2011. The students who were surveyed in 1993 had a
completely different mindset and culture than those of 2011 and beyond (Millennials, 2010).
Lastly, as Ward and Ridolfo point out, this was the first study to use data from a large-scale,
nationally representative survey to explore substance use among Native American college
students (2011, p. 1415). This would indicate that they are bringing forth new information
rather than providing a perspective that has been shown through previous research.
Limited Benefits
Although this is the first study dealing with Native American college students and their
use of substances, it does not provide new information. Ward and Ridolfo find that Native
American college students are not more likely to drink than their peers of different races, but that
they are more likely to smoke and use other substances (2011). There has already been research
done on the substance use within the Native American population as a whole (Ward and Ridolfo,
2011). The findings of this article simply confirm that the patterns within the Native American
population exist within the college students of said population as well. This does not provide any
assistance to student affairs practitioners, because these are answers that were already confirmed.

Ward and Ridolfo are successful in finding the information that they were seeking. Their
research methods are acceptable, aside from their use of student surveys that are close to twenty
years old. They do not allow any biases to affect their research process, and they support their
argument with quantitative evidence. However, the information provided in this article will not
prove as beneficial to most student affairs practitioners, as it is information that could have been
deducted from previous research findings.


Millennials: Confident. Connected. Open to change (February 26, 2010). Pew Center Research.
Retrieved from: http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2010/02/24/millennials-confidentconnected-open-to-change/
Ward, B. W. & Ridolfo, H. (2011). Alcohol, tobacco, and illicit drug use among Native
American college students: An exploratory quantitative analysis. Substance Use and
Misuse, 46, 1410- 1419. doi: 10.3109/10826084.2011.592437