Depression and Health Risk Behaviors

Towards Optimizing Primary Care Service Strategies for Addressing Risk

Published in: Primary Health Care, v. 4, issue 1, no. 152, Mar. 2014, p. 1-7

Posted on RAND.org on March 01, 2014

by Joan Rosenbaum Asarnow, Luis R Zeledon, Elizabeth J. D'Amico, Anne P. LaBorde, Martin Anderson, Claudia Avina, Talin Arslanian, Minh-Chau Do, Jessica Harwood, Steven Shoptaw

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PURPOSE: Depression and health risk behaviors in adolescents are leading causes of preventable morbidity and mortality. Primary care visits provide prime opportunities to screen and provide preventive services addressing risk behaviors/conditions. This study evaluated the co-occurrence of depression and health risk behaviors (focusing on smoking, drug and alcohol misuse, risky sexual behavior, and obesity-risk) with the goal of informing preventive service strategies. METHODS: Consecutive primary care patients (n=217), ages 13 to 18 years, selected to over-sample for depression, completed a Health Risk Behavior Survey and the Diagnostic Interview Schedule for Children and Adolescents (DISC) depression module. RESULTS: Youths with DISC-defined past-year depression were significantly more likely to report risk across multiple risk-areas, Wald X2(1)=14.39, p<.001, and to have significantly higher rates of past-month smoking, X2(1)=5.86, p=.02, substance misuse, X2(1)=15.12, p<.001, risky sex,X2 (1) =5.04, p=.03, but not obesity-risk, X2 (1) =0.19,p=.66. Crosssectional predictors of risk behaviors across risk areas were similar. Statistically significant predictors across all risk domains included: youths' expectancies about future risk behavior; attitudes regarding the risk behavior; and risk behaviors in peers/others in their environments. CONCLUSIONS: Depression in adolescents is associated with a cluster of health risk behaviors that likely contribute to the high morbidity and mortality associated with both depression and health risk behaviors. Consistent with the United States National Prevention Strategy (2011) and the focus on integrated behavioral and medical health care, results suggest the value of screening and preventive services using combination strategies that target depression and multiple areas of associated health risk.

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