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

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14 Scopus citations


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 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research uses data from Add Health, a program project designed by J. Richard Udry, Peter S. Bearman, and Kathleen Mullan Harris, and funded by grant P01-HD31921 from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development, with cooperative funding from 17 other agencies. Special acknowledgment is due to Ronald R. Rindfuss and Barbara Entwisle for assistance in the original design. Persons interested in obtaining data files from Add Health should contact Add Health, Carolina Population Center, 123 W. Franklin St, Chapel Hill, NC 27516-2524 ( ). No direct support was received from grant P01-HD31921 for this analysis.

Funding Information:
Supported in part by the Adolescent Health Protection Program (School of Nursing, University of Minnesota) grant No. T01-DP000112 (principal investigator: Bearinger) from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the CDC.


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


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