Trajectories of risky behaviors in adolescents by race and ethnicity


McCoy, Thomas P.; Park, Eunhee; Erausquin, Jennifer Toller; & Bartlett, Robin (2016). Trajectories of risky behaviors in adolescents by race and ethnicity. 2016 Add Health Users Conference. Bethesda, MD.


Purpose: Adolescence is a vulnerable time for development of risky behaviors associated with disease and premature death (CDC, 2013). Behaviors such as smoking, substance use, and violence are initiated and established from adolescence to adulthood (Mahalik et al., 2013). Various risky health behaviors have different trajectories in young adulthood, and these trajectories may differ among subpopulations based on race/ethnicity (Allen, McNeely, & Orme, 2016; Chen & Jacobson, 2012; French, 2012). However, there is limited knowledge about similarities and differences in the pathways of development for various risky health behaviors, and about the role of race/ethnicity (Chen & Jacobson, 2012). In this study, trajectories of six different behaviors [tobacco, alcohol, and marijuana use; sedentary, sexual, and suicidal behaviors] will be compared by race/ethnicity. Methods: Participants who were interviewed at all four waves from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health) (N=9,421). All measures were based on self-report. Behavioral outcomes that will be studied include number of cigarettes smoked and days of cigarette smoking or chewing tobacco, drinking 5 or more drinks in the past year, how often getting drunk, number of hours playing video or computer games per week, number of times thinking about committing suicide and actual suicide attempts, marijuana use in past 30 days, and ever having sexual intercourse. Growth curve modeling was used to estimate behavior trajectories over time using multilevel negative binomial regression or logistic regression models. Results: Preliminary results indicate that risk behavior development trajectories vary by the type of behavior as well as by race/ethnicity. It is expected that young adults who are white will show steep increase and then decline across the period than minority young adults. Study findings will help pinpoint critical time points for providing interventions for each behavior among the targeted subpopulations.


Reference Type

Conference proceeding

Book Title

2016 Add Health Users Conference


McCoy, Thomas P.
Park, Eunhee
Erausquin, Jennifer Toller
Bartlett, Robin

Year Published


City of Publication

Bethesda, MD

Reference ID