Predicting adolescent profiles of risk: looking beyond demographics

J Adolesc Health. 2002 Oct;31(4):343-53. doi: 10.1016/s1054-139x(02)00371-3.


Purpose: To identify vulnerability and protective factors related to profiles of risk encapsulating the co-occurrence of health risk behaviors.

Methods: The current sample includes 12,578 high school students from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, a nationally representative sample. Four profiles of risk behaviors (sexual activity, general alcohol use, binge-drinking, cigarette use, marijuana use, other illicit drug use, fighting, and suicide) were compared separately by gender for factors in four domains: psychosocial adjustment, daily activities, school, and family. Data were analyzed using ordinary least-squares regression with follow-up contrast statements and multinomial logit regression.

Results: Results indicate that profiles are related to factors in the psychosocial adjustment, school, and family domains. Students in the lowest risk profiles reported consistently higher levels of protective factors and lower levels of vulnerability factors than students in any other profiles. Likewise, students in the highest risk profiles reported consistently lower levels of protective factors and higher levels of vulnerability factors than those in any other profiles. Students in profiles of risk distinguished by higher levels of suicidal thoughts and behaviors reported similar levels of vulnerability and protection as the highest risk profiles. Students in profiles consisting of sexually active, substance-using teens reported higher levels of protective factors and lower levels of vulnerability factors than both the highest risk profiles and the profiles distinguished by suicidal thoughts and behaviors.

Conclusion: Program staff and policymakers should recognize that different profiles of risk behaviors are related to varying levels of vulnerability and protective factors which have potential implications for preventive interventions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior*
  • Factor Analysis, Statistical
  • Female
  • Health Behavior*
  • Health Promotion*
  • Humans
  • Leisure Activities
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Parent-Child Relations
  • Risk
  • Risk-Taking*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Students / psychology
  • United States