The development of effective prevention initiatives requires a detailed understanding of the characteristics and needs of the target audience. To properly identify at-risk individuals, it is crucial to clearly delineate risky from acceptable behavior. Whereas health behavior campaigns commonly use single conditions (e.g., lack of condom use) to identify high-risk cohorts, many risk behaviors are more complex and context dependent, rendering a single condition approach inadequate. Out-of-bounds skiing, an activity associated with voluntary exposure to avalanche hazard, is an example of such a multifaceted risk-taking activity. Using a dataset from an extensive online survey on out-of-bounds skiing, we present an innovative approach for identifying at-risk individuals in complex risk environments. Based on a risk management framework, we first examine risk-taking preferences of out-of-bounds skiers with respect to exposure and preparedness—the two main dimensions of risk management—separately. Our approach builds on existing person-centered research and uses Latent Class Analysis to assign survey participants to mutually exclusive behavioral classes on these two dimensions. Discrete Choice Experiments are introduced as a useful method for examining exposure preferences in the context of variable external conditions. The two class designations are then combined using a risk matrix to assign overall risk levels to each survey participant. The present approach complements existing person-centered prevention research on the antecedents of risk-taking by offering a process-oriented method for examining behavioral patterns with respect to the activity itself. Together, the two approaches can offer a much richer perspective for informing the design of effective prevention initiatives.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
For simplicity, we use the terms ‘skier’ or ‘skiing’ to include snowboarders and snowboarding as well.
Adamowicz, W. L., Boxall, P. C., Williams, M., & Louviere, J. J. (1998). Stated preference approaches for measuring passive use values: Choice experiments and contingent valuation. American Journal of Agricultural Economics, 80, 64–75.
Agrawal, A., Lynskey, M. T., Madden, P. A. F., Bucholz, K. K., & Heath, A. C. (2007). A latent class analysis of illicit drug abuse/dependence: Results from the National Epidemiological Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions. Addiction, 102, 94–104.
Akaike, H. (1974). A new look at the statistical model identification. IEEE Transactions on Automatic Control, 19, 716–723.
Bergman, L. R., & Magnusson, D. (1997). A person-oriented approach in research on developmental psychopathology. Development and Psychopathology, 9, 291–319.
Bergman, L. R., Magnusson, D., & El-Khouri, B. (2003). Studying individual development in an interindividual context: A person-oriented approach. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Bouter, L. M., Knipschild, P. G., Feij, J. A., & Volovics, A. (1988). Sensation seeking and injury in downhill skiing. Personality and Individual Differences, 9, 667–673.
Boxall, P. C., & Adamowicz, W. L. (2002). Understanding heterogeneous preferences in random utility models: A latent class approach. Environmental and Resource Economics, 23, 421–446.
Canadian Standards Association. (1997). Risk management: Guideline for decision-makers - a national standard of Canada (No. CAN/CSA-Q850-97). Ottawa: Canadian Standards Association.
Chung, Y.-S., & Wong, J.-T. (2011). Beyond general behavioral theories: Structural discrepancy in young motorcyclist’s risky driving behavior and its policy implications. Accident Analysis & Prevention. doi:10.1016/j.aap.2011.04.021
Chung, T., Maisto, S. A., Cornelius, J. R., & Martin, C. S. (2004). Adolescents’ alcohol and drug use trajectories in the year following treatment. Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 65, 105–114.
Coffman, D., Patrick, M., Palen, L., Rhoades, B., & Ventura, A. (2007). Why do high school seniors drink? Implications for a targeted approach to intervention. Prevention Science, 8, 241–248.
Colder, C. R., Campbell, R. T., Ruel, E., Richardson, J. L., & Flay, B. R. (2008). A finite mixture model of growth trajectories of adolescent alcohol use: Predictors and consequences. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 70, 976–985.
Collins, L. M., & Lanza, S. T. (2010). Latent class and latent transition analysis: With applications in the social, behavioral, and health sciences. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.
Collins, L. M., Murphy, S. A., & Bierman, K. L. (2004). A conceptual framework for adaptive preventive interventions. Prevention Science, 5, 185–196.
Cronbach, L. (1951). Coefficient alpha and the internal structure of tests. Psychometrika, 16, 297–334.
Croon, M. (2002). Ordering the classes. In A. L. McCutcheon & J. A. Hagenaars (Eds.), Advances in latent class models (pp. 137–162). New York: Cambridge University Press.
Dillman, D. A. (2007). Mail and internet surveys: The tailored design method (2nd ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.
Donohew, R. L., Zimmerman, R., Cupp, P. S., Novak, S., Colon, S., & Abell, R. (2000). Sensation seeking, impulsive decision-making, and risky sex: Implications for risk-taking and design of interventions. Personality and Individual Differences, 28, 1079–1091.
Glanz, K., Yaroch, A. L., Dancel, M., Saraiya, M., Crane, L. A., Buller, D. B., et al. (2008). Measures of sun exposure and sun protection practices for behavioral and epidemiologic research. Archives of Dermatology, 144, 217–222.
Goma-i-Freixanet, M. (2004). Sensation seeking and participation in physical risk sports. In R. Stelmack (Ed.), On the psychobiology or personality: Essays in honour of Marvin Zuckeman (pp. 185–201). New York: Elsevier.
Goodman, L. A. (1974). Exploratory latent structure analysis using both identifiable and unidentifiable models. Biometrika, 61, 215–231.
Grijalva, T. C., Berrens, R. P., Bohara, A. K., & Shaw, W. D. (2002). Testing the validity of contingent behavior trip responses. American Journal of Agricultural Economics, 84, 401–414.
Gunn, M. (2010). Out-of-bounds skiers and avalanche risk: High-risk cohort identification and characterisation (Masters thesis). Burnaby, BC: Simon Fraser University.
Haegeli, P., Haider, W., Longland, M., & Beardmore, B. (2010). Amateur decision-making in avalanche terrain with and without a decision aid - a stated choice survey. Natural Hazards, 52, 185–209.
Haider, W. (2002). Stated preference and choice models—A versatile alternative to traditional recreation research. Paper presented at the International Conference on Monitoring and Management of Visitor Flows in Recreational and Protected Areas, Vienna, Austria.
Hausman, J., & McFadden, D. (1984). Specification tests for the multinomial Logit model. Econometrica, 52, 1219–1240.
Hoyle, R. H., Stephenson, M. T., Palmgreen, P., Lorch, E. P., & Donohew, R. L. (2002). Reliability and validity of a brief measure of sensation. Personality and Individual Differences, 32, 401–414.
International Commission for Alpine Rescue. (2004–2010). People rescued from snow avalanches, alive or dead 2004/05 to 2009/10, from http://www.ikar-cisa.org.
Jonah, B. A., Thiessen, R., & Au-Yeung, E. (2001). Sensation seeking, risky driving and behavioral adaptation. Accident Analysis and Prevention, 33, 679–684.
Langeheine, R., Pannekoek, J., & van de Pol, F. (1996). Bootstrapping goodness-of-fit measures in categorical data analysis. Sociological Methods and Research, 24, 492–516.
Lanza, S. T., & Rhoades, B. (2011). Latent class analysis: An alternative perspective on subgroup analysis in prevention and treatment. Prevention Science. doi:10.1007/s11121-011-0201-1
Larimer, M. E., & Cronce, J. M. (2007). Identification, prevention, and treatment revisited: Individual-focused college drinking prevention strategies 1999–2006. Addictive Behaviors, 32, 2439–2468.
Laska, M., Pasch, K., Lust, K., Story, M., & Ehlinger, E. (2009). Latent class analysis of lifestyle characteristics and health risk behaviors among college youth. Prevention Science, 10, 376–386.
Lazarsfeld, P. F., & Henry, N. W. (1968). Latent structure analysis. New York: Houghton Mifflin.
List, J. A., & Gallet, C. A. (2001). What experimental protocol influence disparities between actual and hypothetical stated values? Environmental and Resource Economics, 20, 241–254.
Louviere, J. J., Hensher, D. A., & Swait, J. D. (2000). Stated choice methods: Analysis and application. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Lundgren, R. E., & McMakin, A. H. (2009). Risk communication: A handbook for communicating environmental, safety, and health risks (4th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.
McClung, D. M. (2002). The elements of applied avalanche forecasting - Part I: The human issues. Natural Hazards, 25, 111–129.
McFadden, D. (1974). Conditional logit analysis of qualitative choice behaviour. In P. Zarembka (Ed.), Frontiers in econometrics (pp. 105–142). New York: Academic Press.
Schwarz, G. (1978). Estimating the dimension of a model. The Annals of Statistics, 6, 461–464.
Schweizer, J., Kronholm, K., Jamieson, J. B., & Birkeland, K. W. (2008). Review of spatial variability of snowpack properties and its importance for avalanche formation. Cold Regions Science and Technology, 51, 253–272.
Slanger, E., & Rudestam, K. E. (1997). Motivation and disinhibition in high risk sports: Sensation seeking and self-efficacy. Journal of Research in Personality, 31, 355–374.
Statham, G., Haegeli, P., Birkeland, K. W., Greene, E., Israelson, C., Tremper, B., et al. (2010). The North American public avalanche danger scale. Paper presented at the International Snow Science Workshop, Lake Tahoe, CA.
Syvertsen, A., Cleveland, M., Gayles, J., Tibbits, M., & Faulk, M. (2010). Profiles of protection from substance use among adolescents. Prevention Science, 11, 185–196.
Train, K. (2003). Discrete choice methods with simulation. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Tremper, B. (2008). Staying alive in avalanche terrain (2nd ed.). Seattle, WA: The Mountaineers.
UNISDR (2009). UNISDR Terminology on Disaster Risk Reduction. Retrieved Jan. 22, 2009, from http://www.unisdr.org/eng/library/lib-terminology-eng.htm.
Vermunt, J. K., & Magidson, J. (2002). Latent class cluster analysis. In A. L. McCutcheon & J. A. Hagenaars (Eds.), Advances in latent class models (pp. 89–106). New York: Cambridge University Press.
Vermunt, J. K., & Magidson, J. (2005a). Latent gold 4.0: User’s guide. Belmont, MA: Statistical Innovations Inc.
Vermunt, J. K., & Magidson, J. (2005b). Latent GOLD choice 4.0 user’s manual. Belmont MA: Statistical Innovations Inc.
Vermunt, J. K., & Magidson, J. (2008). LG-syntax user’s guide: Manual for latent GOLD 4.5 syntax module. Belmont, MA: Statistical Innovations Inc.
Weinstein, N. D., & Sandman, P. M. (2002). The precaution adoption process model. In K. Glanz, B. K. Rimer & F. M. Lewis (Eds.), Health behavior and health education. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Whitehead, J. C. (2005). Environmental risk and averting behavior: Predictive validity of jointly estimated revealed and stated behavior data. Environmental and Resource Economics, 32, 301–316.
Zuckerman, M. (2006). Sensation seeking and risky behaviour. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
This project was part of the ADFAR2 initiative of the Canadian Avalanche Centre, which was funded by the Government of Canada through the Search and Rescue New Initiatives Fund (SAR-NIF). We would like to thank the anonymous reviewers and the editor David MacKinnon for their constructive comments on earlier drafts of this manuscript.
Electronic supplementary material
Below is the link to the electronic supplementary material.
(DOCX 33 kb)
About this article
Cite this article
Haegeli, P., Gunn, M. & Haider, W. Identifying a High-Risk Cohort in a Complex and Dynamic Risk Environment: Out-of-bounds Skiing—An Example from Avalanche Safety. Prev Sci 13, 562–573 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11121-012-0282-5
- High-risk cohort identification
- Avalanche safety
- Out-of-bounds skiing
- Visual discrete choice experiment
- Latent class analysis
- Person-centered research