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Understanding Adversity and Peer Crowds to Prevent Youth Health Risks

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Objectives: Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and adolescent peer crowds are associated with similar health risks, and both have been leveraged to inform interventions. In this study, we examined if ACEs and peer crowds are associated with each other, and their combined effect on health risks. Methods: A cross-sectional survey of adolescents (N = 1053) measured ACEs, peer crowd identification (Mainstream, Popular, Hip Hop, Country, Alternative), and risks (current cigarette, alcohol, and marijuana use, obesity, feeling sad/hopeless, making a suicide plan). Logistic regression explored ACEs as a predictor of peer crowd, and ACEs and peer crowds separately as risk predictors. Mediation explored peer crowd as a mediator of the relationship between ACEs and risks. Results: Experiencing 2+ ACEs was associated with increased odds of Alternative (AOR=2.38, 95% CI=1.53, 3.71) and Hip Hop (AOR=2.08, 95% CI=1.24, 3.51) peer crowd identification. ACEs level and peer crowd independently predicted risks. Finally, peer crowd identification was a partial mediator of the effect of ACEs on risks. Conclusions: ACEs and peer crowds are key predictors of adolescent health risks. Peer crowd-targeted interventions may lessen the long-term effects of ACEs by utilizing values-based, trauma-informed messaging to reduce ACEs-related risks.
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Keywords: ADOLESCENT HEALTH; ADVERSE CHILDHOOD EXPERIENCES; PEER CROWD

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Research Scientist, Rescue Agency, Research Department, Washington, DC;, Email: [email protected] 2: Senior Research Scientist, Rescue Agency, Research Department, San Diego, CA 3: Behavior Change Officer, Rescue Agency, Research Department, Washington, DC 4: President & Executive Creative Director, Rescue Agency, Leadership, San Diego, CA

Publication date: July 1, 2019

More about this publication?
  • The American Journal of Health Behavior seeks to improve the quality of life through multidisciplinary health efforts in fostering a better understanding of the multidimensional nature of both individuals and social systems as they relate to health behaviors.

    The Journal aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the impact of personal attributes, personality characteristics, behavior patterns, social structure, and processes on health maintenance, health restoration, and health improvement; to disseminate knowledge of holistic, multidisciplinary approaches to designing and implementing effective health programs; and to showcase health behavior analysis skills that have been proven to affect health improvement and recovery.

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