Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)



Committee Chair(s)

Kevin Masters


Kevin Masters


Carolyn Barcus


Brent Miller


Health-compromising behavior is a leading cause of death among American Indian (Al) adolescents. Examples of these behaviors include: smoking, alcohol consumption, drug use, and lack of seatbelt use. Theories that predict which Al youth are most at risk for executing these behaviors are needed.

Social learning theory (SL T) has shown adolescents' behaviors are sometimes highly correlated with their parents' behaviors across different ethnic groups. However, there has been little previous research done with Als.

The present study attempted to determine if SLT was applicable to Al adolescents and their parents with regard to four health-related behaviors: cigarette smoking, alcohol consumption, seatbelt use, and religiosity. The first three were chosen because of the high number of Al adolescent deaths associated with them. Religiosity was included because high religiosity scores have been shown to negatively correlate with health-compromising behaviors in some studies. The present study provided partial support for SL T when applied to Al youth. For example, there were positive correlations found between parents' smoking and if the youths have ever smoked regularly or smoke currently.

Little support was found for SLT with regard to alcohol consumption (i.e., the overall correlation was not significant). The exception to this was when daughters were correlated with fathers. How often the father drank and if he binged were positively correlated with how often the daughter drank and if she ever binged. There were strong correlations between parents' seatbelt use and similar use of their adolescents, thus supporting the theory. Also, strong positive correlations were found between the religiosity of the parents' and the youth. Further, religiosity did show negative correlations with health-compromising behaviors among the youth. There was also a sex difference found, with female youth having stronger negative correlations than the male youth.

There were 290 Al adolescents in this nationally representative sample, 136 mate and 154 female. All the behaviors were measured via self-report, as was the identification of the adolescent's ethnicity.

Limitations of this research, implications for future research, and areas for prevention/intervention with Al youth at risk are discussed.



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