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This study examined the factor validity of health risk behaviors and resilience indicators and their covariation across a large racially/ethnically diverse adolescent population. The study subsample (47% Hispanic, 31% White Non-Hispanic, 17% American Indian) was derived from the 2013 New Mexico Youth Risk Resilience Survey (YRRS; N-19,033). We conducted a confirmatory factor analysis on the 6 health risk domains identified by the CDC as contributing most to adolescent morbidity/mortality: (1) cigarette use, (2) alcohol and other illicit drug use, (3) marijuana use, (4) sexual activity, (5) nutrition habits, and (6) physical activity. A 4-factor CFA model of adolescent health risk behaviors was replicated, and a hypothesized 6-factor structure based on behaviors that contribute most to adolescent morbidity/mortality was confirmed. The pattern of covarying risk behaviors differed by Hispanic, Native American, and Non-Hispanic White groups. We also confirmed a single external resilience-interference factor (decreased parental support, low school/community engagement, negative peer associations) that positively correlated with all six risk behaviors. This study described the structure of adolescent health risk behaviors within a context of psychosocial resilience for American Indian and Hispanic adolescents in contrast to Non-Hispanic White adolescents. Our findings provided evidence for the construct validity of six health-risk behavior dimensions within a large racially/ethnically diverse adolescent sample, which reveal different patterns of loadings, degrees of model fit, and factor inter-correlations across the three racial/ethnic groups. Patterns of covarying risk behaviors differed in strength and direction by racial/ethnic group. Results suggest that interventions should target multiple behaviors and be tailored for different racial/ethnic groups. Targeting health risk and resilience indicators supports the use of multi-level health interventions at the individual, school, family, and community level by identifying individuals based on external resilience scores.


Jeremiah D Simmons, Jane Ellen Smith, Sarah J Erickson, Teddy D Warner. A factor analytic approach to understanding health risk behaviors and resilience among multi-racial/ethnic adolescents in New Mexico. Ethnicity & health. 2022 Oct;27(7):1652-1670

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PMID: 33971771

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