To evaluate the prevalence of marijuana use among young women, ages 18–24, within a primary care setting.
From 2/05 to 12/05, women completed a brief, anonymous self-report screening instrument in two urban primary care clinics for potential participation in a randomized controlled trial of an intervention to reduce marijuana use and sexual risk-taking behavior. During the last few months of recruitment, women who completed the screening instrument were also asked to provide a urine sample to test for the presence of marijuana and other drugs.
Of the 607 women who completed the screening instrument, 38.6% reported lifetime marijuana use, 8.4% used marijuana at least monthly, and 1.7% reported using marijuana daily. Within this ethnically diverse sample (45% Hispanic), women who used marijuana at least monthly were more likely to smoke cigarettes (OR = 2.03, 95% CI = 1.04, 3.96), binge drink at least once a month (OR = 2.66, 95% CI = 1.34, 5.28), and to have ever used other drugs (OR = 2.91, 95% CI = 1.31, 6.45). Of the 67 urine samples provided, 60 (89.6%) were concordant with self-reported use, but six of the seven discordant samples were positive despite negative self-report.
The prevalence of marijuana use and binge drinking in this ethnically diverse sample of young, female primary care patients was lower than rates reported in national surveys. Providers should consider marijuana use as a part of a process that addresses more prevalent high-risk behaviors, bearing in mind that these behaviors may be underreported during routine screening.