Problem Behavior Theory and Adolescent Risk Behavior: A Re-Formulation
This chapter reports a re-formulation of Problem Behavior Theory into the risk and protective factor concepts of epidemiology. A comprehensive risk and protective factor conceptual framework is presented, and Problem Behavior Theory is shown to be a particular approach embedded in that larger, explanatory framework. The concepts of risk and protection are analyzed, as is the concept of risk behavior, and a sharp distinction is drawn between risk behavior and so-called risk-taking behavior, with the latter considered a source of explanatory confusion. Five ‘causal’ domains of risk factors and protective factors are articulated—biology/genetics; social environment; perceived environment; personality; and behavior—and examples of Problem Behavior Theory risk factors and protective factors in each domain are presented. Linkages of each of those domains with risk behaviors are illustrated, as is the linkage between engaging in risk behavior and health- or life-compromising outcomes.
KeywordsRisk behavior Psychosocial risk Risk factors Protective factors Risk outcomes Lifestyle Problem Behavior Theory Problem behavior syndrome Behavioral epidemiology
I am indebted to Drs. John E. Donovan and Frances Costa, who have been my colleagues in the research that has shaped some of the ideas in this paper. The support of the W. T. Grant Foundation (Grant No. 88119488) for research on adolescent health behaviors is gratefully acknowledged. My experience on the Carnegie Council on Adolescent Development and my role in the MacArthur Foundation’s Research Program on Successful Adolescent Development among Youth in High-Risk Settings have helped me to think more deeply about some of the issues addressed here.
- Elliott, D. S. (1993). Health-enhancing and health-compromising lifestyles. In S. G. Millstein, A. C. Petersen, & E. O. Nightingale (Eds.), Promoting the health of adolescents: New directions for the twenty-first century (pp. 119–150). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Garmezy, N. (1985). Stress-resistant children: The search for protective factors. In J. E. Stevenson (Ed.), Recent research in developmental psychopathology (pp. 213–233). Oxford: Pergamon Press.Google Scholar
- Jessor, R., Donovan, J. E., & Costa, F. M. (1991). Beyond adolescence: Problem behavior and young adult development. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- Jessor, R., & Jessor, S. L. (1977). Problem behavior and psychosocial development: A longitudinal study of youth. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
- MacMahon, B., Pugh, T. F., & Ipsen, J. (1960). Epidemiologic methods. Boston: Little, Brown.Google Scholar
- Osgood, D. W. (1991). Covariation among health problems in adolescence. Washington, DC: Office of Technology Assessment.Google Scholar
- Sobel, M. E. (1981). Lifestyle and social structure: Concepts, definitions, analyses. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar