Center for Injury Research and Prevention

Youth-Adult Connectedness: A Key Protective Factor for Adolescent Health

TitleYouth-Adult Connectedness: A Key Protective Factor for Adolescent Health
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsSieving RE, McRee A-L, McMorris BJ, Shlafer RJ, Gower AL, Kapa HM, Beckman KJ, Doty JL, Plowman SL, Resnick MD
JournalAm J Prev Med
Issue3 Suppl 3
Date Published2017 Mar
Type of ArticleJournal
KeywordsAdolescent, Adolescent health, Adult, Aged, Female, Homeless Youth, Humans, Male, Mentoring, Middle Aged, Parenting, Sexual Health, Young Adult

Over the past 30 years, prevention science in the adolescent health field has moved from interventions focused on preventing single problem behaviors to efforts employing a dual approach, addressing risk factors that predict problems while simultaneously nurturing protective factors and promoting positive development. Through an examination of previous research and empirical case examples with vulnerable youth, this article considers the hypothesis that adolescents' sense of connectedness to caring adults acts as a protective factor against a range of risk behaviors. Multivariate analyses with existing data examined indicators of youth-adult connectedness among two groups at high risk for poor health outcomes: (1) mentor-youth relationship quality in an urban, ethnically diverse sample of students in a school-based mentoring program (2014 survey, N=239); and (2) parent-youth connectedness in a statewide sample of high school students who reported homelessness in the past year (2013 survey, N=3,627). For youth in the mentoring program, a high-quality youth-mentor relationship was significantly associated with positive social, academic, and health-related behaviors. Among students who experienced homelessness, all measures of parent connectedness were significantly associated with lower sexual risk levels. Collectively, findings from these analyses and previously published studies by this research group provide evidence that strong, positive relationships with parents and other caring adults protect adolescents from a range of poor health-related outcomes and promote positive development. Youth-adult connectedness appears to be foundational for adolescent health and well-being. Program, practice, and policy decisions should consider what strengthens or hinders caring, connected youth-adult relationships.

Alternate JournalAm J Prev Med
PubMed ID28215380
PubMed Central IDPMC5559097
Grant ListKL2 TR000113 / TR / NCATS NIH HHS / United States
UL1 TR000114 / TR / NCATS NIH HHS / United States