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Purpose: To investigate patterns of vulnerability and protection factors associated with risk behaviors and the co-occurrence of risk behaviors in minority ethnicity early adolescents. Methods: Analysis of data from the Research with East London Adolescents Community Health Survey (RELACHS), a school-based study of a representative sample of 2789 adolescents age 11-14 in 2001 (sample 73% non-Caucasian, 21% born outside the United Kingdom). Questionnaire data were obtained on sociodemographic variables, ethnicity, smoking, drinking, drug use, psychological well-being, physical health, and social support from family and peers. Models of associations for each behavior and co-occurrence of risk behaviors (defined as engaging in < 2 behaviors) were developed by hierarchical stepwise logistic regression. Results: Two hundred ninety-two (10.9%) reported 1 risk behavior, 84 (3.1%) reported 2, and 25 (0.9%) reported 3 behaviors. In multivariate models, psychological morbidity was associated with higher risk of all behaviors and co-occurrence, while higher family support was associated with lower risk in all models. Non-Caucasian ethnicity was associated with lower risk of regular smoking and co-occurrence but not drinking or drugs. Birth outside the United Kingdom was associated with lower risk for individual behaviors but not co-occurrence. Religion and religious observance were associated with lower risk of smoking and drinking but not drug use or co-occurrence. Peer connectedness was associated with drug use, but with increased risk. Socioeconomic status was associated only with smoking. Conclusions: Patterns of associations of personal, family, and environmental factors appear to differ between smoking, drinking, lifetime drug use, and the co-occurrence of these behaviors. Hypotheses regarding common factors related to health risk behaviors may be misleading in ethnic minorities and immigrants. Co-occurrence may represent a distinct behavioral domain of risk that is partly culturally determined. © 2006 Society for Adolescent Medicine. All rights reserved.

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Journal article


Journal of Adolescent Health

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