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Adolescence. 1990 Winter;25(100):773-9.

Seat belt use and stress in adolescents.

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St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center, Adolescent Medicine, Hartford, Connecticut 06105.


This study explored the association of adolescent seat belt use with psychosocial risk factors in an urban minority population after the enactment of a mandatory seat belt law. Data on seat belt use, family support, feelings of being down, suicidal ideation, substance abuse, sexual activity, school troubles, and problems with the law were obtained from 541 self-report intake forms administered to an adolescent medicine clinic population from 1986 to 1987. Respondents were almost exclusively black and Hispanic; 315 (59%) were females and 222 (41%) males, with a mean age of 15.4. Seat belt use was reported by 249 (46%) and no or intermittent use by 292 (54%). Chi-square and Wilcoxon rank sums tests were used to examine associations between seat belt use and risk factors. Results showed that the group comprised of those reporting no and intermittent seat belt use was significantly more likely to feel down, have decreased home support, have problems with school and the law, have been on probation, and feel that life in general was not going very well. No association was found between seat belt use and cigarette, drug, or alcohol use or sexual activity without contraceptives. Taking into account the lack of observed behavioral information to validate such self-report questionnaires, these data nevertheless point to the nonuse or intermittent use of seat belts as a possible manifestation of a lack of self-care due to feeling down and/or preoccupation with family, school, or societal problems.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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