Neighborhood Effects on Adolescent Health and Risk Behaviors

Karen A. Snedker, Seattle Pacific University
Jerald Herting, University of Washington

Neighborhood context – risk and protective factors – is important in behavioral outcomes during adolescence. This paper uncovers the role of neighborhoods (e.g., disadvantage and resources) on health and risk behaviors. Outcomes of interest include mental health (depression, hopelessness, anxiety, and suicide risk behaviors), substance use (alcohol, marijuana, and illicit drugs) and delinquent behavior (assault, theft, vandalism, and trouble with police). Using hierarchical linear modeling (HLM) we assess the impact of positive and negative neighborhood context on outcomes for youth. The base dataset comes from the Reconnecting Youth prevention research studies that provide a stratified (by high risk) random sample of high school aged youth in Seattle. The secondary data comes from the United States Census and other public data sources. Preliminary results suggest that measures of neighborhood disadvantage are associated with less substance use while it serves to increase emotional distress. Comparative analysis will reveal the robustness of these findings.

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Presented in Session 27: Multilevel Models of Health