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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

UAB Explores Demographic Characteristics Associated with Wellness in Adolescents

Wellness is a multidimensional construct related to an individual’s physical, emotional, intellectual, and social well-being. Dr. Julie K. Preskitt, assistant professor in the department of health care organization and policy at the University of Alabama at Birmingham — collaborating with department colleague Dr. Nir Menachemi, professor, along with Dr. Kristi S. Menear, associate professor and chair in UAB’s department of human studies — recently presented estimates of wellness among U.S. adolescents ages 12 to 17 years and explored how demographic characteristics are associated with wellness.

[Photo: Dr. Julie K. Preskitt]

Included in the sample were all 34,601study respondents from the 2011-2012 National Survey of Children’s Health, which investigates “intersecting aspects of children’s lives,” including “physical and mental health, access to quality health care, and the child’s family, neighborhood and social context.” Survey items were coded to operationalize an overall wellness score, comprised of four subdimensions: 1) physical; 2) intellectual; 3) emotional; and 4) social.

The mean adjusted overall wellness score was 30.2 (out of 40). Mean raw subdimensions scores were: social = 3.14 (out of four); emotional = 4.79 (out of six); intellectual = 4.80 (out of eight); and physical = 6.57 (out of eight). Older adolescents, those with special health needs, those in lower income families, and those whose mother or father report fair-poor mental health status had lower wellness scores.

The researchers concluded that U.S. adolescents have wellness scores toward the upper or higher end of the scale. Several adolescent and family characteristics were associated with either lower overall wellness and/or lower wellness on multiple subdimensions. Assessing wellness during critical developmental periods of adolescence is a first step toward promoting behaviors that support increased wellness into adulthood.

“Wellness among US Adolescents Ages 12-17 Years” was published online in April in the journal Child Care, Health and Development.

Journal article: