Self-esteem and health-promoting lifestyle as predictors of health-risk behavior among older adolescents

Butler, Martha
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The purpose of this study was to investigate a model of health-risk behavior among older adolescents. Specifically, relationships between self-esteem, health-promoting lifestyle, and health-risk behavior, and the importance of self-esteem and health-promoting lifestyle in predicting health-risk behavior were examined.

The conceptual framework was based on the concepts identified in self and symbolic interactionism theories, as well as those in health promotion, adolescent and problem behavior theories. The interaction among the variables identified in the conceptual framework guided the development of the five research hypotheses.

A predictive, correlational research method was used to test the hypotheses. The Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (Rosenberg, 1965), the Health-Promoting Lifestyle Profile (Walker, Sechrist, & Pender, 1987), and the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) were used to collect data.

The study sample consisted of 120 college students attending a small, private, four-year liberal arts college. Mean age was 18.8 years. Students participated after being informed verbally and in writing of the purpose and voluntary nature of the study.

Proposed relationships were analyzed by Pearson's product moment correlation and chi-square analysis. Discriminant function analysis was used to determine the power of health-promoting lifestyle and self-esteem in predicting health-risk behavior. Risk behavior was defined by specific YRBS items addressing sexual and alcohol-use behavior. One hypothesis was supported, one was not supported, and three hypotheses were partially supported. Relationships were found between self-esteem and health-promoting lifestyle, between health-promoting lifestyle and specific risk behaviors, and among specific personal characteristics such as academic self-assessment, religiosity, and physical health self-assessment and risk behaviors. Self-esteem was positively correlated with risk behavior, which was opposite the hypothesized direction. Self-esteem and health-promoting lifestyle were found to successfully predict membership into dichotomous risk behavior groups for two of the sexual behavior variables.

The study concluded that health-promoting lifestyle may have a positive effect on behavior, and may be used in predicting health-risk behavior among older adolescents, but that self-esteem may have a spurious relationship with risk behavior, and should be investigated further.

Self image, Teenagers, Health risk assessment, Risky behavior