Risk patterns among college youth: identification and implications for prevention and treatment.


PURPOSE This study identified underlying subgroups among college students in terms of lifestyle characteristics and health risk behaviors and then investigated how demographic factors were associated with the underlying risk patterns to bolster health promotion efforts and interventions. METHOD College students (N = 996) enrolled at Indiana University during 2009-2010 participated in a multidimensional online survey. Latent class analysis was used to identify underlying risk patterns based on seven lifestyle and health behaviors, including frequent alcohol use, binge drinking, smoking, low physical activity, low vegetable intake, low fruit intake, and poor sleep. RESULTS Four distinct risk behavior patterns were identified for both males and females including a "healthy" class, "low substance use but poor other health behaviors" class, "high substance use" (males)/"high alcohol use" (females) class, and a risk class characterized by elevated probability of all seven indicators. The highest risk class included 34% of the males and 22% of the females; they tended to be older or in more advanced undergraduate classes. Among males, compared with the "healthy" class, the "high substance use" class was more likely to contain non-Hispanic White students and students in advanced classes. Among females, the "low substance use but poor other health behaviors" class was associated with racial/ethnic minority status and lower levels of parental education. CONCLUSIONS Our data suggest that risky health behaviors may tend to cluster in some students and that health promotion techniques might effectively be targeted to identifiable student subgroups.

DOI: 10.1177/1524839914520702

Cite this paper

@article{Luo2015RiskPA, title={Risk patterns among college youth: identification and implications for prevention and treatment.}, author={Juhua Luo and Jon Agley and Michael S. Hendryx and Ruth A. Gassman and David Lohrmann}, journal={Health promotion practice}, year={2015}, volume={16 1}, pages={132-41} }