Adolescents and Health Behavior Theory
According to this brief, because of the number of life-threatening conditions that claim the lives of America's youth, the need for successful health promotion and preventive interventions for adolescents is greater than ever. In order to identify the best practices for doing so, this brief recommends the use of theory to guide field work for youth advocates. The document's objectives are threefold: to identify the determinants of adolescent health (particularly development and environmental influences), to provide examples of health behavior theories that may help to explain or predict HIV-related risk and behaviors among adolescents, and to illustrate how these theories can be applied at different levels to guide HIV-related interventions. Tables are interspersed throughout the brief to provide concrete examples of these objectives. The authors point out that determining the goals and objectives of theory-driven intervention requires selecting changeable and measurable outcomes. These may be behavioral, cognitive, psychological, biological, or community/environmental factors. Examples of theory application are given both at the individual and the community/group levels. Key concepts are defined, illustrated, and applied to these samples. This brief illustrates how youth-service professionals may benefit from understanding the determinants of adolescent health and using behavioral theories to guide interventions for youth in high-risk situations.