Adolescent Early Death Perception: Links to Behavioral and Life Outcomes in Young Adulthood

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Introduction: The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between changes in adolescent perception of risk for early death over time and behavioral and life outcomes in young adulthood. Methods: This is a secondary data analysis of 7202 respondents participating in waves 1 (1995), 2 (1996), and 3 (2001-2002) of the in-home interviews from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. Linear and logistic regression models were used to determine the predictive ability of adolescent early death perception at waves 1 and 2 on young adult outcomes of health risk, human capital, and prosocial development, and fitness at wave 3. Results: Nearly one in four youth (23%) expressed perceived risk of premature death at some point in time; 6% of youth persisted in this outlook. Perceived risk of premature death during adolescence was linked to poor health and productivity on multiple levels in young adulthood. Discussion: Adolescent perceived risk for premature death portends poor outcomes in young adulthood. Findings support incorporating screening questions on adolescents' mortality beliefs into psychosocial assessments and interviews.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)224-234
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Pediatric Health Care
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2011


  • Adolescent
  • Early death perception
  • Fatalism
  • Optimism
  • Pessimism
  • Screening

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