PhD Graduate Kat Kolar and Professor Patricia Erickson on the Normalization of Cannabis Use

PhD graduate Kat Kolar and Professor Patricia Erickson, in collaboration with Andrew Hathaway (University of Guleph), Amir Mostaghim (University of Guelph), and Geraint Osborne (University of Alberta), published an article in Deviant Behavior. The article explores the social networks that are embedded in the use and supply of cannabis. The authors argue that these social networks contribute to the normalization of cannabis use.

Kat Kolar obtained her PhD in Sociology from the University of Toronto in 2018. Her dissertation is titled Differentiating the Drug Normalization Framework: A Mixed Methods Investigation of Substance Use among Undergraduate Students in Canada. She is currently a postdoctoral fellow at UBC researching the social integration of substance use and health inequities impacting people who use illicit drugs. Patricia Erickson is a retired senior scientist at CAMH and a Professor (status-only) in the Department of Sociology and the Centre for Crime and Socio-Legal Studies at the University of Toronto. Her research interests include illicit drug use and drug policy; youth, violence, mental health and addictions.

We have posted the citation and the abstract of the article below. The full text is available through Research Gate here.

Hathaway, Andrew D., Amir Mostaghim, Patricia G. Erickson, Kat Kolar, and Geraint Osborne. 2018. “‘It’s Really No Big Deal: The Role of Social Supply Networks in Normalizing Use of Cannabis by Students at Canadian Universities.” Deviant Behavior.

Cannabis (marijuana) has undergone a normalizing process as indicated by high use rates, social tolerance, and broader cultural acceptance of its use in many countries. Users also maintain access through extended friendship networks that facilitate the cultural diffusion of the practice. The social nature of supply is herein theorized in terms of Goffman’s understanding of activities that function to preserve a sense of normalcy as a collective achievement enabling predictable constructions of reality. Based on in-depth interviews with undergraduate students, we explore how social networks of supply—characterized by casual access, reciprocity, and sharing—contribute to shared meanings about using marijuana as an unremarkable or “normal” thing to do.

Read the full article through ResearchGate here.

PhD Graduate Kat Kolar and Professor Adam Green on HIV Prevention Science

PhD graduate Kat Kolar and Professor Adam Green published an article in Sociology of Health & Illness that outlines their content analysis of HIV prevention science funded by the National Institute of Health. Green & Kolar find that research into intervention takes a biomedical approach, but prevention research that focuses on risk factors tends to be more sociological in nature.

Kat Kolar obtained her PhD in Sociology from the University of Toronto in 2018. Her dissertation is titled Differentiating the Drug Normalization Framework: A Mixed Methods Investigation of Substance Use among Undergraduate Students in Canada. She is currently a postdoctoral fellow at UBC researching the social integration of substance use and health inequities impacting people who use illicit drugs. Adam Green is an Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto. His research is situated at the intersection of the sociology of sexuality and medical sociology, and aims to develop theory relevant to both areas.

We have posted the citation and the abstract of the article below. The full text is available through Research Gate here.

Green, Adam and Kat Kolar. 2015. “Engineering Behaviour Change in an Epidemic: The Epistemology of NIH-Funded HIV Prevention Science.” Sociology of Health & Illness, 37(4):1-17.

Social scientific and public health literature on National Institutes of Health-funded HIV behavioural prevention science often assumes that this body of work has a strong biomedical epistemological orientation. We explore this assumption by conducting a systematic content analysis of all NIH-funded HIV behavioural prevention grants for men who have sex with men between 1989 and 2012. We find that while intervention research strongly favours a biomedical orientation, research into the antecedents of HIV risk practices favours a sociological, interpretive and structural orientation. Thus, with respect to NIH-funded HIV prevention science, there exists a major disjunct in the guiding epistemological orientations of how scientists understand HIV risk, on the one hand, and how they engineer behaviour change in behavioural interventions, on the other. Building on the extant literature, we suggest that the cause of this disjunct is probably attributable not to an NIH-wide positivist orientation, but to the specific standards of evidence used to adjudicate HIV intervention grant awards, including randomised controlled trials and other quantitative measures of intervention efficacy.

Read the full article here.

PhD graduate Kat Kolar on HIV Prevention in Indoor Sex Markets

PhD Candidate Kat Kolar, in collaboration with Vicky Bungay (UBC), Soni Thindal, Valencia Remple (UBC), Caitlin Johnston, and Gina Ogilve, published an article in Health Promotion Practice. The authors find that there is an urgent need for HIV/STI prevention initiatives among commercial sex workers. They offer recommendations for programs to address this need in various communities.

Kat Kolar obtained her PhD in Sociology from the University of Toronto in 2018. Her dissertation is titled Differentiating the Drug Normalization Framework: A Mixed Methods Investigation of Substance Use among Undergraduate Students in Canada. She is currently a postdoctoral fellow at UBC researching the social integration of substance use and health inequities impacting people who use illicit drugs.

We have posted the citation and abstract from the article below. The full text is available through the University of Toronto Library Portal here.

Bungay, Vicky, Caitlin Johnston, Kat Kolar, Gina Ogilve, Valencia Remple, and Soni Thindal. 2012. “Community-Based HIV and STI Prevention in Women Working in Indoor Sex Markets.” Health Promotion Practice, 14(2):247-255.

Community research into women’s experiences in the indoor commercial sex industry illustrated an urgent need for sexually transmitted infection (STI) and HIV education, prevention, testing, and treatment and culturally appropriate services to support the sexual and reproductive health of commercial sex workers (CSWs). This work also revealed that a high number of immigrant—primarily Asian—women are involved in the indoor sex industry. In response, the authors developed a community–academic research partnership to design and implement a blended outreach research program to provide STI and HIV prevention interventions for indoor CSWs and their clients. This Community Health Worker Model HIV Prevention and Health Promotion Program incorporated health education, primary care referrals, STI testing using self-swab techniques, and a point-of-care HIV screening test. Here the authors report on program implementation, design, and the experiences of participants and team members and provide research and vaccination recommendations for future work in this area. This work work affirms that community-based service providers can be a key entry point for indoor CSWs to access health care and sexual health promotion and education and may be a solution to missed opportunities to provide culturally and contextually appropriate education and services to this population.

Read the full article here.

PhD graduate Kat Kolar on the Legal Regulation of Sex Work

PhD graduate Kat Kolar, in collaboration with Bill McCarthy (UC Davis), Cecelia Benoit (UVic), and Mikael Jansson (UVic), published an article in the Annual Review of Law and Social Science. The article explores the legal strategies used to regulate sexual services in various contexts. The authors argue there is a need for a better understanding of the consequences of these strategies.

Kat Kolar obtained her PhD in Sociology from the University of Toronto in 2018. Her dissertation is titled Differentiating the Drug Normalization Framework: A Mixed Methods Investigation of Substance Use among Undergraduate Students in Canada. She is currently a postdoctoral fellow at UBC researching the social integration of substance use and health inequities impacting people who use illicit drugs.

We have posted the citation and abstract from the article below. The full text is available from Research Gate here.

McCarthy, Bill, Cecelia Benoit, Mikael Jansson, and Kat Kolar. 2012. “Regulating Sex Work: Heterogeneity in Legal Strategies.” Annual Review of Law and Social Science, 8(1):255-271.

In this article, we examine various legal strategies used to regulate the sale and purchase of sexual services. We use three broad categories to structure our discussion: full criminalization, partial decriminalization, and full decriminalization. In each section, we discuss laws directed toward the control of sellers, buyers, and third parties. We focus on legislation and practices at the highest level of aggregation (i.e., the national, state, or provincial level), and due to limited data, we concentrate on high-income countries. We present a critical assessment of each legal approach and conclude with a call for future research on the consequences of different legal strategies for sellers, buyers, and third parties.

Read the full article here.

PhD graduate Kat Kolar on the Recruitment of Research Participants from Marginalized Communities

PhD graduate Kat Kolar, in collaboration with Chris Atchinson (UVic), published an article in Social Science Computer Review. The article explores how the internet and technology can aid researchers in recruiting difficult to find research participants when individuals may otherwise avoid participating due to fear of stigma.

Kat Kolar obtained her PhD in Sociology from the University of Toronto in 2018. Her dissertation is titled Differentiating the Drug Normalization Framework: A Mixed Methods Investigation of Substance Use among Undergraduate Students in Canada. She is currently a postdoctoral fellow at UBC researching the social integration of substance use and health inequities impacting people who use illicit drugs.

We have posted the citation and abstract from the article below. The full text can be accessed from Research Gate here.

Kolar, Kat and Chris Atchinson. 2013. “Recruitment of Sex Buyers: A Comparison of the Efficacy of Conventional and Computer-Based Approaches.” Social Science Computer Review, 31(2):178-190.

In this article we draw upon data from a large-scale mixed methods investigation of clients of commercial sex workers in Canada to illustrate the potential value that understanding and integrating computer and network technology has for enhancing access to, and participation from, marginalized and stigmatized populations. In particular, we present qualitative data from analysis of our research field notes as well as an analysis of quantitative data from response monitoring and feedback features built into the actual data collection process to help support our argument that, for some populations, network technology–based recruitment strategies should be recognized as the preferred recruitment option. In addition, we discuss the potential utility and application of viral solicitation, a newly emerging computer network-based nonprobability technique, for contacting and securing the participation of stigmatized and marginalized research participants. Our recruitment of sex buyers through web-based listserves was the most successful participant solicitation strategy, generating 63.18% (n = 544) of our survey respondents. Conventional recruitment (advertising in print-based media and in adult-oriented businesses) generated few participants (2.90%, n = 25). Viral solicitation acted as an important low-cost supplemental means of recruitment, generating a further 164 survey participants (19.05% of survey participants).

Read the full article here.

PhD graduate Kat Kolar on Stimulant Use Among Undergraduate Students

PhD graduate Kat Kolar published an article in Contemporary Drug Problems that analyzes attitudes surrounding non-prescription stimulant use among undergraduate students. Students often justify using these drugs by claiming that their potential academic success is worth the risks.  Kolar argues that this has implications for understanding the concept of drug acceptability.

Kat Kolar obtained her PhD in Sociology from the University of Toronto in 2018. Her dissertation is titled Differentiating the Drug Normalization Framework: A Mixed Methods Investigation of Substance Use among Undergraduate Students in Canada. She is currently a postdoctoral fellow at UBC researching the social integration of substance use and health inequities impacting people who use illicit drugs.

We have posted the citation and the abstract of the article below. The full text is available through ResearchGate here.

Kolar, Kat. 2015. “Study Drugs ‘Don’t Make You Smarter”: Acceptability Evaluations of Nonmedical Prescription Stimulant Use Among Undergraduate Students.” Contemporary Drug Problems, 42(4):314-330.

Despite the growing literature on nonmedical prescription drug use among students in North America, existing research does not investigate the potential convergences of nonusing student attitudes on drug acceptability with those of their stimulant-using peers. Analysis of 36 interviews with nonmedical stimulant prescription drug-using and nonusing undergraduate students in Canada provides insight into evaluations of drug acceptability within a competitive, top-tier research university context. Interviews are analyzed thematically with attention to practices students engage in to assess nonmedical stimulant use, and discourses students use to position the acceptability of such use. Interview results illustrate commonalities in how using and non-using students weigh the risks and advantages of nonmedical prescription stimulant use in relation to the pursuit of scholastic success. These findings are used to critically engage with the construct of drug acceptability, as conceptualized in the drug normalization framework of Howard Parker and colleagues. To conclude, recommendations are made for future research, and implications for university policies are considered.

Read the full article here.

PhD Candidate Kat Kolar on Sexual Safety Practices Among Sex Workers

PhD graduate Kat Kolar, in collaboration with Vicky Bungay (UBC) and Chris Atchinson (UVic), published an article in AIDS Care. The article explores the condom use and STI testing practices of sex workers in massage parlours and their clients. The authors find that both the sex workers and their clients use condoms for commercial vaginal sex more frequently than for oral sex and for noncommercial sex.

Kat Kolar obtained her PhD in Sociology from the University of Toronto in 2018. Her dissertation is titled Differentiating the Drug Normalization Framework: A Mixed Methods Investigation of Substance Use among Undergraduate Students in Canada. She is currently a postdoctoral fellow at UBC researching the social integration of substance use and health inequities impacting people who use illicit drugs.

We have posted the abstract and citation for the article below. The full text can be accessed through Research Gate here.

Kolar, Kat, Chris Atchinson, and Vicky Bungay. 2014. “Sexual Safety Practices of Massage Parlour-Based Sex Workers and Their Clients.” AIDS Care, 26(9):1100-1104.

The Outreach and Research in Community Health Initiatives and Development (ORCHID) project examines social and structural factors that contribute to HIV/AIDS risk among women working in Vancouver’s indoor sex industry and their clients. From 2006 to 2009, two mixed method studies were undertaken in ORCHID: one exploring experiences of women working in the indoor sex industry, mainly in massage parlors, and the other exploring experiences of men as sex “buyers.” Both studies emphasize sexual health and safety, risk and protective behaviors, and related contextual factors. No analyses examining the sexual health and safety practices of massage parlor-based sex workers and clients exist in the Canadian context. To address this gap, we analyze two survey datasets – with 118 sex workers and 116 clients. Upon comparing demographics of sex workers and clients, we discuss their condom use and sexually transmitted infections (STI) and HIV testing practices. Sex workers and clients reported high rates of condom use for vaginal/anal intercourse. While both groups reported lower rates of condom use for oral sex during sex transactions, clients did so to a greater extent (p < 0.001). Condom use with noncommercial sex partners was reported to be less consistent by both groups. STI testing was higher among sex workers than clients (p < 0.001). Initiatives targeting clients of massage parlor-based sex workers for STI education and testing are needed. Future research should investigate how different types of relationships between sex workers and clients impact their sexual safety practices.

Read the full article here.

 

PhD graduate Kat Kolar on Condom Use in the Indoor Sex Industry

PhD graduate Kat Kolar, in collaboration with Ingrid Handlovsky and Vicky Bungay (UBC), published an article in Culture, Health & Sexuality. The article analyzes condom use in the indoor sex industry in Vancouver. The authors argue that context has an important impact on whether condoms are used and initiatives to encourage condom use must take this into account.

Kat Kolar obtained her PhD in Sociology from the University of Toronto in 2018. Her dissertation is titled Differentiating the Drug Normalization Framework: A Mixed Methods Investigation of Substance Use among Undergraduate Students in Canada. She is currently a postdoctoral fellow at UBC researching the social integration of substance use and health inequities impacting people who use illicit drugs.

We have posted the citation and abstract from the article below. The full text is available through Research Gate here.

Handlovsky, Ingrid, Kat Kolar, and Vicky Bungay. 2012. “Condom Use as Situated in a Risk Context: Women’s Experiences in the Massage Parlour Industry in Vancouver, Canada.” Culture, Health & Sexuality, 14(9):1007-1020.

Investigation into condom use in sex work has aroused interest in health promotion and illness prevention. Yet there remains a dearth of inquiry into condom use practices in the indoor sex industry, particularly in North America. We performed a thematic analysis of one aspect of the indoor sex work by drawing on data from a larger mixed-methods study that investigated women’s health issues in the massage parlour industry in Vancouver, Canada. Using a risk context framework, condom use was approached as a socially situated practice constituted by supportive and constraining dynamics. Three analytic categories were identified: (1) the process of condom negotiation, (2) the availability of condoms and accessibility to information on STI and (3) financial vulnerability. Within these categories, several supportive dynamics (industry experience and personal ingenuity) and constraining dynamics (lack of agency support, client preferences, limited language proficiency and the legal system) were explored as interfacing influences on condom use. Initiatives to encourage condom use must recognise the role of context in order to more effectively support the health-promoting efforts of women in sex work.

Read the full article here.

PhD Graduate Kat Kolar and Professor Patricia Erickson on Coping Strategies of Street-Involved Youth

PhD graduate Kat Kolar and Professor Patricia Erickson, in collaboration with Donna Stewart (University Health Network), published an article in the Journal of Youth Studies. The article examines lived experience, mental health, and coping strategies among “street-involved youths.”

Kat Kolar obtained her PhD in Sociology from the University of Toronto in 2018. Her dissertation is titled Differentiating the Drug Normalization Framework: A Mixed Methods Investigation of Substance Use among Undergraduate Students in Canada. She is currently a postdoctoral fellow at UBC researching the social integration of substance use and health inequities impacting people who use illicit drugs.Patricia Erickson is a retired senior scientist at CAMH and a Professor (status-only) in the Department of Sociology and the Centre for Crime and Socio-Legal Studies at the University of Toronto. Her research interests include illicit drug use and drug policy; youth, violence, mental health and addictions.

We have posted the citation and the abstract of the article below. The full text is available through ResearchGate here.

Kolar, Kat, Patricia Gail Erickson, and Donna Stewart. 2012. “Coping Strategies of Street-Involved Youth: Exploring Contexts of Resilience.” Journal of Youth Studies, 15(6):744-760.

Literature on how street-involved youth (SIY) cope with risky environments remains very limited. This exploratory study investigates SIY’s coping strategies, employing the ‘contexts of resilience’ framework (where resilience is understood as a process that changes over time and by environment) to situate an inductive thematic analysis of interviews with 10 current and former SIY. Three themes are explored: social distancing; experiences of violence; and self-harm and suicidality. The first two themes illustrate the double-edged nature of some coping strategies. While social distancing could contribute to isolation from social supports and violent self-defense to retaliatory harm, without alternative resources to prevent victimization these strategies must be acknowledged as reasoned responses to the risks associated with a violent milieu. Strategies assumed to be maladaptive among more normative youth may be among the limited resources available for SIY to utilize in attempts to make positive changes in their lives. The final theme explores self-harm and suicidality as indicative of social and structural needs and shows how in the SIY context such behaviors may not signify an outcome of non-resilience. The adaptation of assessments of coping strategies to be congruent with evaluative contexts should be applied to resilience research addressing other marginalized populations.

Read the full article here.

PhD Graduate Kat Kolar on the Concept of Resilience

PhD graduate Kat Kolar published an article in the International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction that explores the theoretical concept of resilience and its role in social science research. Kolar outlines the concept’s history, its relationship with risk, and its application for research on the development of children and adolescents.

Kat Kolar obtained her PhD in Sociology from the University of Toronto in 2018. Her dissertation is titled Differentiating the Drug Normalization Framework: A Mixed Methods Investigation of Substance Use among Undergraduate Students in Canada. She is currently a postdoctoral fellow at UBC researching the social integration of substance use and health inequities impacting people who use illicit drugs.

We have posted the citation and abstract from the article below. The full text is available through Research Gate here.

Kolar, Kat. 2011. “Resilience: Revisiting the Concept and its Utility for Social Research.” International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction, 9(4):421-433.

Researchers of resilience seek to understand why some people will recover from or avoid negative outcomes against the odds associated with exposure to particular adversities. Over the last two decades the concept of resilience has experienced “burgeoning interest” (Ungar, 2005, p. xvii). However, due to a lack of consistency in defining and measuring this theoretical construct within and across disciplines, the recent explosion of literature on resilience has contributed more to confusion than clarity among researchers and policy makers. In order to clarify the opportunities and pitfalls in store for future research, this paper provides an overview of the historical development of the resilience concept and the different approaches to resilience prominent today. It also addresses the relationship of resilience to the concept of risk. Since the majority of resilience research is concerned with the development of children and adolescents, this review is youth-oriented.

Read the full article here.

PhD graduate Kat Kolar and Professor Patricia Erickson on Abstaining from Cannabis Use

PhD graduate Kat Kolar and Professor Patricia Erickson, in collaboration with Andrew Hathaway (University of Guleph), Amir Mostaghim (University of Guelph), and Geraint Osborne (University of Alberta), published an article in Drugs: Education, Prevention and Policy. The article explores the attitudes of Canadian undergraduate students who choose not to use cannabis. The authors find that these students still maintain ideas about drug use as deviant behavior and connect it to cultural ideals surrounding gender and other social statuses.

Kat Kolar obtained her PhD in Sociology from the University of Toronto in 2018. Her dissertation is titled Differentiating the Drug Normalization Framework: A Mixed Methods Investigation of Substance Use among Undergraduate Students in Canada. She is currently a postdoctoral fellow at UBC researching the social integration of substance use and health inequities impacting people who use illicit drugs. Patricia Erickson is a retired senior scientist at CAMH and a Professor (status-only) in the Department of Sociology and the Centre for Crime and Socio-Legal Studies at the University of Toronto. Her research interests include illicit drug use and drug policy; youth, violence, mental health and addictions.

We have posted the citation and the abstract of the article below. The full text is available through ResearchGate here.

Hathaway, Andrew D., Amir Mostaghim, Patricia G. Erickson, Kat Kolar, and Geraint Osborne. 2018. “‘It’s Really No Big Deal: The Role of Social Supply Networks in Normalizing Use of Cannabis by Students at Canadian Universities.” Deviant Behavior.

Aims: To critically investigate the extent of normalisation of the use of cannabis by undergraduate students. To examine the extent of peer accommodation, this paper focuses on attitudes of students who abstain. It sheds light on social meanings of the practice by exploring non-users’ reasons for abstaining in addition to their attitudes, perceptions and experiences of use among their peers.
Methods: Respondents were recruited to participate in interviews through an online survey of undergraduate students in social science classes at three Canadian universities.
Findings: Peer accommodation of the use of cannabis requires that users exercise due caution and discretion and be respectful of the choices of non-users not to use. Non-users’ attitudes, however, still reflect longstanding cultural assumptions about drug use as a deviant behaviour. Attitudes towards the use of cannabis reflect norms and expectations about gender among other culturally constructed social statuses and roles.
Conclusions: Future research should continue to investigate nuances of the differentiated normalisation process. A better understanding of the cultural transformation of cannabis, and other drugs in common use by youth, requires more exploration of the emerging social context and attitudes of users and non-users of the drug.

Read the full article through ResearchGate here.