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Child Care Health Dev. 2009 May;35(3):340-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2214.2009.00960.x.

Health risks for older US adolescents in foster care: the significance of important others' health behaviours on youths' health and health behaviours.

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School of Teaching, Learning and Development, The University of Auckland, Private Bag 92601, Symonds Street, Auckland 1150, New Zealand.



Little research to date has examined older foster care youths' physical health and the associated health behaviours of the youth and important people in their lives (parents, peers and important non-parental adults).


Older US foster care youth (n= 188) completed surveys on multiple indicators of self-report physical health, including number of chronic health problems, overall health and sick symptoms, as well as their own health-compromising behaviours and the health-compromising behaviours of important others.


The findings suggested that boys, particularly those placed in non-kin foster homes and group homes, appeared to have poorer health than did boys in these placement settings. Girls, however, engaged in similar levels of health-compromising behaviours as boys. Furthermore, the health-compromising behaviours of peers and important non-parental adults (VIPs), but not parents, were associated with youths' health behaviours, which, in turn, were associated with the physical health status of the foster care youth.


Youth report high levels of health-related problems and involvement in health-compromising behaviours. Healthcare practitioners can help to improve the health and well-being of children in foster care by becoming informed about adolescent health behaviours, as well as the health behaviours of their peers and other important non-parental adults.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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