Objective: The objective of this study was to compare the frequency of risk behaviors and to measure the extent of co-occurrence of these behaviors in chronically ill and healthy adolescents.
Methods: Data were drawn from the 2002 Swiss Multicenter Adolescent Survey on Health database, a nationally representative survey of 7548 adolescents in postmandatory school aged 16 to 20 years. There were 760 subjects who reported a chronic illness and/or a disability. The comparison group consisted of 6493 subjects who answered negatively to both questions. We defined 8 risk behaviors: daily smoking, alcohol misuse, current cannabis use, current use of any other illegal drug, early sexual debut, eating disorder, violent acts, and antisocial acts. We analyzed each behavior and the sum of behaviors, controlling for age, gender, academic track, parents' education level, depression, and health status. Results are given as adjusted odds ratios using the comparison group as the reference category.
Results: Youth with a chronic condition were more likely to smoke daily, to be current cannabis users, and to have performed violent or antisocial acts. Youth with a chronic condition were also more likely to report 3 or >or=4 risk behaviors.
Conclusions: These results indicate that having a chronic condition carries additional risks for engaging in health risk behaviors and emphasize the importance of health risk screening and preventive counseling for young people in general and among those suffering from chronic conditions in particular.