205019 Adolescent Role Models and Health Behaviors

Tuesday, November 10, 2009: 10:55 AM

David Grant, PhD , UCLA Center for Health Policy Research/California Health Interview Survey (CHIS), UCLA, Los Angeles, CA
Antronette Yancey, MD, MPH , Department of Health Services, UCLA School of Public Health, Los Angeles, CA
Ritesh Mistry, PhD, MPH , Division of Cancer Prevention and Control Research, UCLA School of Public Health, Los Angeles, CA
Nicole Kravitz-Wirtz , UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, Los Angeles, CA
Despite growing emphasis on mentoring and a presumption that role models positively influence adolescent development, neither the broader construct of role modeling nor the relationship between role model characteristics and health-related behavior have been adequately explored. This study examines the presence and type of role model during adolescence, and whether adolescent health indicators current smoking, alcohol/marijuana use, fighting, fruit/vegetable intake, and physical activity vary by role model type. The analysis uses data from the adolescent sample (N=4010) of the 2003 California Health Interview Survey. Results indicate that 59% of adolescents identified a role model, 61% chose role models of like ethnicity, and 88% chose role models of like sex. Females were twice as likely (22% vs. 11%) to identify a family member, while males were four times more likely (24% vs. 5%) to identify an athlete. Adolescents with family member (16%) or teacher (3%) role models were less likely to smoker, less likely to use alcohol/marijuana, less likely to fight, more likely to consume fruits/vegetables, and more likely to be physically active (P<.001). Teens with entertainer (11%) or friend (5%) role models were more likely to smoke, more likely to use alcohol/marijuana, and more likely to fight (P<.001). The pro-social utility of athlete (15%) and other (9%) role models varied across behavioral outcomes, but was usually beneficial. This study concludes that the relationship between role modeling and adolescent health behaviors varies by role model type, with important implications for designing, implementing and evaluating role modeling/mentoring interventions.

Learning Objectives:
Compare adolescent health behaviors among teens with and without a role model Evaluate role model type (teacher, family member, athlete, entertainer) and impact on several health behaviors

Keywords: Adolescent Health, Health Behavior

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: PhD in sociology and director of the California Health Interview Survey
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.