Date of Defense:
February 1 9, 2013
Background: Adolescents and emerging adults establish patterns of health – related behaviors that can influence health across the lifespan. Health promotion efforts and preventive services that support the healthy development of young people, including those with disabilities and chronic health conditions, are a public health priority.
Purpose: To investigate rates of substance use, sexual behaviors, physical activity (PA ), and fruit and vegetable (FV) intake among youth with and without mobility limitations (ML), ages 16 to 24.
Methods: Analysis of baseline survey data (n=783) from MyPath, a longitudinal study investigating the transition from pediatric to adult health ca re in a community – based sample of youth and young adults with and without ML.
Results: The sample is 73% urban, 93% white, and 56% female; the average age was 20 years (SD=2.41) and almost half (47%, n=365) reported being limited in their mobility or physical functioning. Youth with ML reported less substance use and sexual intercourse than those without ML; however, half of sexually active youth, regardless of limitation status, used condoms. High rates of PA characterize both groups of youth, although youth with ML report exercising significantly less often than those without. FV intake was low in both groups.
Conclusions: It is important that health care providers view youth with ML as needing counseling and guidance about health – risk and health – promoting behaviors, like any young person presenting him/herself for care. Most notably, results indicate the need for increased health care services aimed at decreasing risky behaviors and increasing healthy behaviors among youth with ML.