, Volume 30, Issue 6, pp 707-728

Adolescent Health Risk Profiles: The Co-Occurrence of Health Risks among Females and Males

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Abstract

This analysis examines the complexity of adolescent health risk behaviors using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health), a nationally representative study of students. The current sample includes 12,955 students (6,626 females and 6,329 males) in grades 9 through 12. Cluster analysis was conducted separately by gender to examine the interrelationships among eight health risk behaviors: sexual activity, general alcohol use, binge drinking, cigarette use, marijuana use, other illicit drug use, fighting, and suicide. Four distinct clusters for females and males were identified based on their profiles of risk-taking behavior. Females and males both report low- and high-risk profiles, and a risk profile with high alcohol use and sexual activity. Females have two distinct risk profiles, one that is highest on every measure of risk compared to others and one that has high levels of fighting and suicide with little participation in substance use or sexual activity. Males have a distinct risk profile with particularly high rates of marijuana use and suicidal behaviors. Few distinctions exist between profiles based on sociodemographic characteristics.