Street children and substance use: a review

Embleton, L., Mwangi, A., Vreeman, R., Ayuku, D., & Braitstein, P. (2013). The epidemiology of substance use among street children in resource‐constrained settings: a systematic review and meta‐analysis. Addiction108(10), 1722-1733.

ABSTRACT: To compile and analyze critically the literature published on street children and substance use in resource-constrained settings. We searched the literature systematically and used meta-analytical procedures to synthesize literature that met the review’s inclusion criteria. Pooled-prevalence estimates and 95% confidence intervals (CI) were calculated using the random-effects model for life-time substance use by geographical region as well as by type of substance used. Fifty studies from 22 countries were included into the review. Meta-analysis of combined life-time substance use from 27 studies yielded an overall drug use pooled-prevalence estimate of 60% (95% CI = 51–69%). Studies from 14 countries contributed to an overall pooled prevalence for street children’s reported inhalant use of 47% (95% CI = 36–58%). This review reveals significant gaps in the literature, including a dearth of data on physical and mental health outcomes, HIV and mortality in association with street children’s substance use. Street children from resource-constrained settings reported high life-time substance use. Inhalants are the predominant substances used, followed by tobacco, alcohol and marijuana.

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