Date of Award:

2001

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)

Department:

Psychology

Advisor/Chair:

Kevin Masters

Abstract

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 SL T 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 SL T 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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