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J Consult Clin Psychol. 1996 Aug;64(4):764-75.

Structure of health risk behavior among high school students.

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Center for Health Promotion Research and Development, University of Texas--Houston Health Science Center, USA.


The authors test the contention of R. Jessor's (1977) problem behavior theory that adolescent health risk behaviors comprise a single behavioral syndrome. Multidimensional scaling (MDS) and cluster analysis are used to analyze data from a statewide survey of high school students' (n = 5,537) health risk behaviors. A classical MDS analysis was calculated to test the dimensionality of the behaviors. All indicators supported a multidimensional model. An individual-differences MDS (INDSCAL) analysis revealed that a 4-dimensional solution best fit the data, with gender and racial-ethnic differences emerging in the relative salience of the dimensions. The INDSCAL dimensional coordinates for each health risk behavior were then submitted to a hierarchical cluster analysis technique. Five behavioral clusters were identified, 1 of which included many of the traditional "problem behaviors," such as smoking, unprotected sexual intercourse, and alcohol consumption. These findings support a multidimensional structure underlying adolescent health risk behavior. Implications for theory and prevention of health risk behaviors are discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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