Prevention of high-risk behaviors in adolescent women

Pamela A. Sarigiani, Lenoraann Ryan, Anne C. Petersen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: To better delineate the impact of health risk behaviors on adolescent women's current and future health and development. Method: The Commonwealth Fund Survey of Adolescent Health, a national survey of adolescents in Grades 5-12 designed to better understand their health and health care needs, was used as the basis for this study. Survey data were collected in 1997 from a total of 6730 adolescents (3568 females, 3162 males). Areas examined include smoking, drinking, use of other drugs, violence, safety, reproductive risks, and the prevention of risk behaviors in adolescent women. Results: Adolescent women are almost equally likely to smoke, drink, and engage in other substance use as their male counterparts, but with increased health risks. Different motivations for engaging in risk behavior also are evident. Adolescent women are also more likely than adolescent men to experience physical abuse, and they are twice as likely to be sexually abused. Conclusions: Effective prevention programs need to recognize that the motivations for engaging in risk behaviors may differ by gender. Developmental awareness, proper assessment, and pivotal institutions can provide and shape what is needed for healthy development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-119
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Adolescent Health
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1999


  • Adolescent women
  • Gender differences
  • Prevention
  • Risk behaviors


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