The health status of young adults in the United States

J Adolesc Health. 2006 Sep;39(3):305-17. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2006.04.017. Epub 2006 Jul 10.


The health issues of young adulthood have received relatively little attention compared with those of adolescence, although the critical issues in young adulthood parallel those of adolescence. Young adults often fare worse than adolescents on health indicators, with many measures of negative outcomes--including rates of injury, homicide, and substance use--peaking during the young adult years. The contextual factors shaping health status and access to care in young adulthood differ significantly from the context of adolescence. This article synthesizes national data to present a health profile of young adults, reviewing social indicators that describe the context of young adulthood and presenting measures of health status. We examine mortality, morbidity, risky behaviors, and health care access and utilization, identifying the most significant gender and racial/ethnic disparities. The article also identifies limitations of existing data and offers suggestions for future research and health monitoring in this area. We conclude with a discussion of current efforts to address the health and well-being of young adults and argue for creating a national health agenda for young adults that includes research, programs and policies to address health issues during this period of the lifespan.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Accidents / mortality
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology
  • Disabled Persons
  • Female
  • Foster Home Care
  • Health Policy*
  • Health Services Accessibility
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Insurance, Health / statistics & numerical data
  • Male
  • Marriage
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Reproductive Behavior
  • Risk-Taking
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases / epidemiology
  • Smoking / epidemiology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology
  • Suicide / statistics & numerical data
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Violence