Objective: This study investigates the clustering of a broad range of health-compromising and delinquent behaviors. We examine whether these behaviors belong to a single but broad cluster, 'risk-taking behavior', and whether the nature and degree of clustering in adolescents differs from that in adults.
Method: A representative sample (N=4395) of the Dutch population aged 12 to 40 (overall response rate 67%), was asked about various health-compromising behaviors, such as alcohol consumption, smoking, illegal drug use, unsafe sexual behavior, physical inactivity, poor nutrition (such as skipping breakfast and not eating fruit and vegetables), poor sleep behavior, unlawful traffic behavior, and delinquent and aggressive behavior. Data were collected from fall 2005 to spring 2006 using internet questionnaires and face-to-face computer-assisted interviews.
Results: No single broad cluster was found. Instead, there were several separate but interrelated clusters. The contents of these clusters differed between age groups. For young adolescents (12-15) two clusters were identified: Alcohol and Delinquency. For older adolescents (16-18) and adults (19-40) three clusters were identified: Alcohol, Delinquency and Health.
Conclusion: The findings of this study support a more integrated approach to promoting healthier lifestyles, and suggest that the behavior targets of integrated prevention programs should be different for adolescents and adults.