Comparing Growth Trajectories of Risk Behaviors From Late Adolescence Through Young Adulthood: An Accelerated Design

Jeannette Brodbeck, Monica S Bachmann, Tim J Croudace, Anna Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Risk behaviors such as substance use or deviance are often limited to the early stages of the life course. Whereas the onset of risk behavior is well studied, less is currently known about the decline and timing of cessation of risk behaviors of different domains during young adulthood. Prevalence and longitudinal developmental patterning of alcohol use, drinking to the point of drunkenness, smoking, cannabis use, deviance, and HIV-related sexual risk behavior were compared in a Swiss community sample (N = 2,843). Using a longitudinal cohort-sequential approach to link multiple assessments with 3 waves of data for each individual, the studied period spanned the ages of 16 to 29 years. Although smoking had a higher prevalence, both smoking and drinking up to the point of drunkenness followed an inverted U-shaped curve. Alcohol consumption was also best described by a quadratic model, though largely stable at a high level through the late 20s. Sexual risk behavior increased slowly from age 16 to age 22 and then remained largely stable. In contrast, cannabis use and deviance linearly declined from age 16 to age 29. Young men were at higher risk for all behaviors than were young women, but apart from deviance, patterning over time was similar for both sexes. Results about the timing of increase and decline as well as differences between risk behaviors may inform tailored prevention programs during the transition from late adolescence to adulthood. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1732-1738
Number of pages7
JournalDevelopmental Psychology
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2012

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