Behavioural risk factors and protective factors in adolescents: A comparison of Latinos and non-Latino Whites

Scott C. Carvajal, Carrie E. Hanson, Andrea J. Romero, Karin K. Coyle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

69 Scopus citations


Objectives. This study investigated differences in behavioural health protective and risk factors in US Latino and non-Latino White adolescents as well as differences among Latinos with different levels of acculturation using a bicultural acculturation model. The bicultural model is consistent with current understanding of cultural change processes; however it has infrequently been applied to understand adolescent health outcomes. The outcomes included risk and health behaviours as well as mental health factors consistent with Jessor's framework for describing adolescents' health status. Design. Participants included 1119 students randomly selected from all middle schools of a Northern California district. Respondents completed project staff administered self-reports surveys in their schools that included assessments of health behaviours, mental health, and socio-cultural variables - including acculturation level. Results. Latinos were at higher risk than non-Latino Whites in the following areas: academic orientation, physical activity, and sunscreen use. Boys and those of lower social class were more likely to report use of various substances and violence. Among Latinos, those in the marginalised acculturation group - those with less attachments and adaptations to Latino and other cultures, showed less desirable mental health outcomes than the bicultural group. Conclusion. These results extend prior research by assessing the health needs of early adolescent youth. The study found important differences within Latinos using a bicultural acculturation model. The use of a bicultural acculturation model, or cultural orientation approach more generally, may have especial utility for addressing health issues wherever minority populations interact with a dominant society.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)181-193
Number of pages13
JournalEthnicity and Health
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2002


  • Adolescents
  • Health behaviours
  • Latinos
  • Risk behaviours

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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