Psychology ETDs

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Current researchers in the adolescent health field are beginning to argue that the descriptive knowledge base of adolescent health lacks a strong conceptual base and may be inadequate to sufficiently inform a comprehensive assessment of adolescent health behaviors. This study aimed to build upon the conceptual base by integrating a descriptive epidemiologic study (2013 New Mexico Youth Risk Resilience Survey) with psychological theory and factor analytic methodologies to better understand the relationship between health behaviors and resilience factors. This study replicated a previously identified four-factor health behavior structure and an expanded six-factor health behavior structure across a racially/ethnically diverse sample. All substance use factors were highly correlated with sexual activity and physical activity risk being correlated with eating behavior risk. This study also confirmed a unidimensional resilience factor structure that positively correlated with all six behaviors, with resilience risk being mostly highly correlated with physical activity risk. Measurement invariance was achieved between males and females only on alcohol use, sexual activity, physical activity, and resilience. The results have significant implications for targeting multiple behaviors through prevention and intervention initiatives. An important strength of this study is the inclusion of a large and ethnically diverse sample. The results of this study aim to influence the creation of interventions that move beyond targeting individual or isolated risk behaviors and towards interventions that target sets of behaviors that are specific to youth in New Mexico.

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First Committee Member (Chair)

Erickson, Sarah

Second Committee Member

Warner, Teddy




adolescent, health disparities, measurement invariance, health behaviors, resilience, factor analysis

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