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Adolescents' risk perceptions in relation to risk behavior with long-term health consequences; antecedents and outcomes: A literature review

Journal article
Authors Pernilla Larsman
Mats Eklöf
Marianne Törner
Published in Safety Science
Volume 50
Issue 9
Pages 1740-1748
ISSN 0925-7535
Publication year 2012
Published at Institute of Medicine, School of Public Health and Community Medicine
University of Gothenburg Centre for person-centred care (GPCC)
Department of Psychology
Pages 1740-1748
Language en
Keywords Adolescent, Risk perception, Health behavior, Person centered care, african-american adolescents, dependent diabetes-mellitus, 1st sexual, intercourse, young-people, belief model, condom use, hiv-infection, perceived vulnerability, positive illusions, regimen adherence, ylor se, 1994, psychological bulletin, v116, p21
Subject categories Sociology, Psychology, Other Medical Sciences


There is a need for a systematic literature review focusing on adolescents' risk perceptions in relation to risk behavior with long-term health consequences with delayed onset. The aim of this literature review was to review the results of such empirical studies, and to interpret these results from a general risk psychology perspective. Special focus was on factors influencing adolescents' risk perceptions, and on the risk perceptions - risk behavior relationship. Literature searches were conducted in the PsycInfo, PubMed, and Cinahl databases. In total 51 journal articles were included in the review. Evidence, although inconsistent, was found for age, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, close exposure to negative outcome, perceived control, and knowledge, stereotyping and misconceptions as covariates of risk perceptions. Evidence was found both for a negative and a positive association between risk perceptions and risk behavior. The results suggest that the adolescent's risk perception, knowledge, perceived control (response- and self-efficacy) as well as benefits and costs of health behavior must be well balanced. Any agent, such as care providers, aiming at encouraging adolescents to take active responsibility for their long term health, must be able to determine each young person's status regarding these issues concomitantly, in order not to evoke risk denial, exaggerated unrealistic optimism, or impaired mental wellbeing. (C) 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. RAHAM SCS, 1995, HEALTH EDUCATION RESEARCH, V10, P155

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