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J Adolesc Health. 1999 Jan;24(1):38-44.

Correlates of physical and emotional health among Native American adolescents.

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Division of Pediatrics and Adolescent Health, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis 55455, USA.



To examine the risk and protective factors among Native American youth that are correlated with both physical and emotional health.


The study was based upon the National American Indian Adolescent Health Survey (n = 13,454), conducted using students self-categorized into a ranked variable of physical health ("poor," "fair," "good," or "excellent") and a continuous variable of emotional health based upon a nine-item unidimensional scale (overall Cronbach's alpha of .74). Twenty-nine variables derived from resilience theory encompassing both risk and protective factors were selected. Associations with physical and emotional health were examined using linear regression analysis.


Identified protective factors explained approximately 30% of variance for emotional health, with family caring explaining nearly 15% of variance for both genders. The most significant associations for emotional health for females were family caring, body pride, feelings about school, and worries or concerns particularly about violence. For males, most significant protective factors included family caring, body pride, parental expectations, and type of sexual attraction. For physical health, the identified variables explained only 16% of variance for both genders. Body pride was the most significant association, explaining 10% of variance.


Connection to family remains a consistently powerful factor in the lives of these youth. Other associations including body pride and parental expectations may help in the exploration and buffering of emotional health among American Indian youth.

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