Providence, RI -- Research shows that adolescents who engage in one form of risky behavior, like drug or alcohol use, are likely to engage in other risky behaviors like self-harm, or having unprotected sex, but often times these behaviors are not discussed during a medical or mental health exam. Now, a new study shows that a simple and brief screening measure called the adolescent risk inventory (ARI) can quickly identify the broad range of risk behaviors found among adolescents.
"This constellation of behavior problems is really the thing we are trying to avoid. So, identifying early that a teen is engaging in a risky behavior may prevent that behavior from being the gateway to further risky behaviors," says lead author Celia Lescano, PhD with the Bradley Hasbro Childrens Research Center and The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University.
This study appeared in the April 2007 issue of the journal Child Psychiatry and Human Development.
Prior research indicates that teenagers who engage in one risky behavior are more likely to be involved in others and that this has an additive effect. The authors note that risk behaviors among teens are prevalent and can lead to increased morbidity, mortality, and health care costs, so identifying and dealing with problematic issues as they arise can help teens be safer and healthier.
Researchers studied 134 youth ages 12 to 19 with psychiatric disorders. Each study participant was given the adolescent risk inventory (ARI) (a paper and pencil measure). The ARI included questions about sexual history (have you ever been pregnant or been a dad?), self-harm (have you ever attempted suicide?), and attitudes towards acting out (do you break rules for no reason?).
"We found that the ARI is reliable and comprehensive and can be useful in quickly identifying a wide range of teen risk behaviors," says Lescano.
This is important, the authors say, because when teens are seen for medical and/or me
Contact: Megan Martin