Date of Award

January 2013

Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)

Department

School of Public Health

First Advisor

Trace Kershaw

Abstract

Background: Future expectations are the extent to which an individual believes certain events will occur in their lifetime. Positive expectations for the future are well understood to be independently protective for both risk factors in times of transition--specifically adolescence--and for health outcomes in the future. Resiliency theory suggests that certain protective factors may interact with baseline risk to weaken or eliminate the association between risks and poor outcomes, providing enhanced protection for at-risk youth. This study aimed to determine if future expectations can moderate the association between high-risk adolescent behaviors and adult outcomes; specifically if high expectations can be a form of resiliency for these youth.

Methods: Using the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health Study) the interaction between adolescent risk (sexual and substance use) and positive future expectations was measured using multivariate logistic regression.

Results: This analysis suggests there is no significant interaction between positive future expectations and adolescent sexual and substance use behaviors; future expectations continues to be independently protective for both high-risk behaviors in adolescence, and some adult outcomes.

Conclusion: Future research on this topic is needed to understand the mechanisms and extent to which positive expectations effect decisions, behaviors, and subsequent health outcomes. Furthermore, understanding resilience factors for the most at-risk youth should continue to be a priority in adolescent health research.

Comments

This is an Open Access Thesis.

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