Multidimensional adolescent risk profiles predicting internalizing problems and substance use in early adulthood


Bayly, Benjamin L. (2018). Multidimensional adolescent risk profiles predicting internalizing problems and substance use in early adulthood. Society for Prevention Research. Washington DC.


Introduction: Longitudinal studies have produced an extensive body of evidence that identifies adolescent precursors of internalizing (e.g. depression) and substance use problems in early adulthood; however, the factors relevant to negative outcomes are often looked at in isolation. Little is known about how different patterns of multi-dimensional risk and protective factors predict internalizing problems and substance use in early adulthood. Method: We used a subsample of 7-9th grade participants (N = 2,393) from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health), a large, nationally representative, longitudinal dataset that followed individuals from adolescence and into early adulthood. We used Latent Class Analysis (LCA) to create profiles of adolescent risk and protective factors at Wave 1. An ecological framework was employed to select indicators. Risk and protective factors were included at the individual (e.g. academic achievement), microsystem (e.g. teacher caring, parent-adolescent closeness), and exosystem (e.g. neighborhood safety) levels. We then used the BCH approach and examined how these profiles were associated with psychological counseling, suicidal ideation, life satisfaction, drunk driving, binge drinking, marijuana, and other illegal drug use. Results: Fit statistics and interpretability suggested a 5-class solution. Classes were termed: “low risk” (41%); “low academic achievement” (22%); “multidimensional risk” (19%); “neighborhood and family risk” (13%); and “no close adults” (5%). The “multidimensional risk” and “no close adults” groups generally reported significantly higher levels of internalizing problems and substance use during early adulthood. Discussion: While it is not surprising that adolescents from the multidimensional risk group were at an increased risk for multiple negative outcomes six years later, our findings provide additional support for the detrimental effect of cumulative risk factors during early adolescence; adolescents who encountered risks across multiple levels were significantly more likely to have internalizing and substance use problems as young adults. Additionally, it is meaningful that individuals from the no close adults group were just as likely to report more negative outcomes as the multidimensional risk group and were even more likely to be receiving psychological counseling and to have driven drunk. These results stress the importance of the role family and school play in the development of early adolescents and suggest that adolescents who do not feel like their teachers care about them and do not have a close relationship with a parent stand to benefit from prevention efforts designed to foster positive relationships between them and the adults in their lives.


Reference Type

Conference proceeding

Book Title

Society for Prevention Research


Bayly, Benjamin L.

Year Published


City of Publication

Washington DC

Reference ID