Purpose: To assess the association between health-risk behaviors and self-perceived quality of life among adolescents
Methods: A sample of 2801 students (957 seventh and eighth graders and 1844 ninth through twelfth graders) completed the Teen Assessment Survey (TAP) and the surveillance module of the Youth Quality of Life Instrument (YQOL-S). TAP responses were used to determine health-risks related to tobacco use, alcohol use, illicit drug use, and high risk sexual behavior. Separate multivariate analyses of variance showed mean differences in contextual and perceptual items of the YQOL-S for each health-risk behavior. Differences among engagers (adolescents who often engage), experimenters (occasionally engage), and abstainers (never engage) in the health-risk behavior were evaluated by gender and junior/senior high school groups.
Results: In general, adolescent abstainers reported higher quality of life (QoL) than engagers and experimenters on YQOL-S items. Adolescents who engaged in multiple risk behaviors scored even lower than those who engaged in only one health-risk behavior. Experimenters tended to rate their QoL more similar to that of abstainers than to that of engagers.
Conclusions: The framework of QoL proved useful in the evaluation of adolescents' engagement in health-risk behaviors. Additionally, assessing the areas of QoL that differ between the groups may provide information for planning interventions aimed at risk reduction among engagers and experimenters.