Comparison of Health-Risk Behaviors Among Students Attending Alternative and Traditional High Schools in Minnesota

Karen E. Johnson, Barbara J. McMorris, Martha Y. Kubik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Previous research, over a decade old, suggests students attending alternative high schools (AHS) engage in high levels of health-risk behaviors. Data from the 2007 Minnesota Student Survey for students attending AHS (n = 2,847) and traditional high schools (THS; n = 87,468) were used for this cross-sectional analysis to compare prevalence estimates, adjusted for age, race/ethnicity, and free and reduced lunch, for 28 health-risk behaviors. Students attending AHS were significantly more likely than students attending THS to report engaging in all behaviors related to unintentional injury and violence, tobacco use, alcohol and other drug use, and sexual activity, and were significantly less likely to report participating in physical activity, including sports teams. Students attending AHS continue to engage in high levels of health-risk behaviors as compared to their peers in THS. Updated national prevalence data were needed, as well as studies examining the role of protective factors in the lives of students attending AHS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)343-352
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of School Nursing
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This research was supported in part by the Adolescent Health Protection Program (School of Nursing, University of Minnesota) grant number T01-DP000112 (PI: 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

Copyright 2013 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • alternative high school students
  • health disparities
  • health-risk behaviors


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