December 2006

Grant Results

SUMMARY

Investigators at the University of Minnesota analyzed data and disseminated findings from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (called Add Health), the largest research study ever undertaken on adolescents in the United States.

Staff at Burness Communications in Bethesda, Md., under a subcontract, provided editorial assistance, prepared media kits for each release of findings and worked with the media to promote coverage.

Key Results

  • Investigators produced 13 peer-reviewed publications in national journals (see Bibliography).
  • Investigators produced four reader-friendly monographs that distilled the research findings for policymakers, youth advocates, educators and parents (see Findings).
  • Investigators made more than 100 presentations on their findings at local, state, national and international meetings.

Key Findings
The findings below come from the monographs, which are available online.

Funding
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) provided $649,990 in support between August 1998 and December 2004.

Between September 1996 and April 1998, RWJF had provided $199,880 to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for dissemination of the first series of findings from the Add Health study (see Grant Results on ID# 029632).

 See Grant Detail & Contact Information
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THE PROBLEM

In 1994, investigators at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill began the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (called Add Health). Add Health is the largest and most extensive research study ever undertaken on adolescent health in the United States.

It was designed to help explain the causes of adolescent health and health behavior, with special emphasis on the effects on health and behavior of school, community, peers and other aspects of adolescent life.

The study employed a nationally representative sample of adolescents in grades 7–12. Questionnaires were completed by 90,000 students and 140 administrators in 144 schools. A subset of 20,000 of the students also completed an in-home interview as did one parent.

Although the federal government allocated $25 million for completion of the study, it did not set aside funds for dissemination of the findings.

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RWJF STRATEGY

Between September 1996 and April 1998, RWJF provided a $199,880 grant to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for dissemination of the first series of findings from Add Health study (see Grant Results on ID# 029632).

The University of Minnesota and Burness Communications in Bethesda, Md., under contract to the University of North Carolina, were responsible for dissemination.

Project staff produced a monograph and a September 10, 1997 article, "Protecting Adolescents From Harm. Findings From the National Longitudinal Study on Adolescent Health," published in the Journal of the American Medical Association that summarized a number of factors that can protect youth from engaging in unhealthy and harmful behavior. Among them:

  • Feeling connected to parents and family, as well as school, protected adolescents against every health risk behavior examined, except pregnancy. Health risks included: emotional distress, suicidal thoughts and behaviors, violence, smoking, drinking, using illegal drugs and sexual behavior.
  • Ease of access to guns at home was associated with violence and suicidal thoughts and behavior.

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THE PROJECT

RWJF provided a grant to support further analyses and dissemination of the Add Health findings. Specifically, investigators at the University of Minnesota produced additional journal articles and monographs on findings from Add Health. Burness Communications, under a subcontract from the university, provided editorial assistance for the publications, prepared media kits for each release of additional findings and worked with the media to ensure coverage.

RWJF also provided supplemental communications funding for a video news release on parent-teen communications about sexual behavior in conjunction with a monograph on that subject. In addition, RWJF granted supplemental communications funding to develop a Spanish language version of a monograph entitled Protecting Teens: Beyond Race, Income and Family Structure.

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RESULTS

  • Investigators produced 13 peer-reviewed articles in national journals (see the Bibliography). The articles covered topics including:
    • The influence of mothers on adolescents' sexual initiation.
    • The risk and protective factors for emotional well-being in adolescents with learning disabilities.
    • The effects of race, income and family on adolescent risk-taking.
    • The importance of feeling connected to school for adolescent health.
    • The development of adolescent self-report measures from the Add Health study.
    • Gender differences in juvenile violence.
    • Predictive and protective factors for youth violence.
  • Investigators produced four reader-friendly monographs that distilled research findings for people who make decisions that affect the health of adolescents. Project staff distributed an estimated 50,000 copies of the monographs to policymakers, health service providers, youth advocates, educators, parents and others.
  • Investigators made more than 100 presentations on findings from Add Health at local, state, national and international meetings. Sponsoring organizations included the World Health Organization, MTV, Leadership to Keep Children Alcohol Free, U.S. Department of Education, American Medical Association and state legislatures. Investigators also held seven U.S. congressional briefings on their findings.
  • Project staff held three press conferences to announce release of journal articles and monographs (November 30, 2000, April 11, 2002 and September 4, 2002). Each article and monograph generated stories in major newspapers, wire services and television networks including the San Francisco Chronicle, Washington Post, Philadelphia Inquirer, Associated Press, Gannett News Service, MSNBC.com, NPR Morning Edition, ABC World News This Morning and CBS Radio.

Findings

The findings, available online in the monographs, include:

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SIGNIFICANCE TO THE FIELD

  • The project director said that the ability to translate the scientific data into easily accessible and widely distributed findings has helped generate a new way of thinking about youth health risks and behavior.

    "This grant got the word out widely about the power of protective factors in the lives of young people," said Michael Resnick, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Minnesota. "Whether we are looking at girls or boys or kids living in rural or suburban settings or ethnicity or sexual orientation, we found these robust recurring factors that protected against a wide array of health issues. It shifted the discussion about the health of kids from problems of youth to protective factors and resiliency. It's not just about preventing the bad. It's about promoting the good."

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LESSONS LEARNED

  1. Promote research through media coverage, congressional briefings and easy-to-understand reports. This grant enabled project staff to translate key findings about adolescent development into formats that were accessible to millions of people beyond the academic community. (Project Director)

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AFTER THE GRANT

As of September 2006, the project director and colleagues were analyzing data from the third wave of the Add Health study where researchers re-interviewed the original participants who are now in their early to mid-twenties.

As part of that analysis, they are launching a reexamination of the protective factors identified in the 1997 Journal of the American Medical Association. They want to see how powerful those factors are in the lives of the youth 10 years later.

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GRANT DETAILS & CONTACT INFORMATION

Project

Dissemination of Additional Findings From the National Adolescent Health Study

Grantee

University of Minnesota (Minneapolis,  MN)

  • Amount: $ 649,990
    Dates: August 1998 to December 2004
    ID#:  034782

Contact

Michael Resnick, Ph.D.
(612) 624-9111
Resni001@umn.edu

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BIBLIOGRAPHY

(Current as of date of this report; as provided by grantee organization; not verified by RWJF; items not available from RWJF.)

Articles

Blum J, Ireland M and Blum RW. "Gender Differences in Juvenile Violence: A Report From Add Health." Journal of Adolescent Health, 32(3): 234–240, 2003.

Blum RW, Beuhring T, Shew ML, Bearinger LH, Sieving RE and Resnick MD. "The Effects of Race, Income and Family on Adolescent Risk-Taking Behaviors." American Journal of Public Health, 90(12): 1879–1884, 2000. Abstract available online.

Borowsky I, Ireland M and Resnick MD. "Adolescent Suicide Attempts: Risks and Protectors." Pediatrics, 107(3): 485–493, 2001. Abstract available online.

Lammers C, Ireland M, Resnick MD, Blum RW. "Influences on Adolescents' Decision to Postpone Onset of Sexual Intercourse: A Survival Analysis of Virginity Among Youth Ages 13 to 18." Journal of Adolescent Health, 26(1): 42–48, 2000. Abstract available online.

McNeely CA, Nonnemaker JM and Blum RW. "Promoting School Connectedness: Evidence From the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health." Journal of School Health, 72(4): 138–146, 2002. Abstract available online.

McNeely CA, Shew ML, Beuhring T, Sieving R, Miller BC and Blum RW. "Mothers' Influence on the Timing of First Sex Among 14- and 15-Year-Olds." Journal of Adolescent Health, 31(3): 256–265, 2002.

Resnick MD. "Protective Factors, Resiliency and Healthy Youth Development." Adolescent Medicine: State of the Art Reviews, 11(1): 157–164, 2000. Abstract available online.

Resnick MD. "Resilience and Protective Factors in the Lives of Adolescents." Journal of Adolescent Health, 27(1): 1–2, 2000.

Resnick MD, Ireland M and Borowsky, I. "Youth Violence Perpetration: What Protects? What Predicts? Findings From the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health." Journal of Adolescent Health, 35(5): 424.e1–10, 2004. Abstract available online.

Santelli JS, Lindberg LD, Abma J, McNeely CS and Resnick M. "Adolescent Sexual Behavior: Estimates and Trends From Four Nationally Representative Surveys." Family Planning Perspectives, 32(4): 156–165, 194, 2000. Abstract available online.

Sieving RE, McNeely CS and Blum RW. "Maternal Expectations, Mother-Child Connectedness, and Adolescent Sexual Debut." Archives of Pediatric Adolescent Medicine, 154(8): 809–816, 2000. Abstract available online.

Sieving RE, Beuhring T, Resnick MD, Bearinger LH, Shew M, Ireland M and Blum RW. "Development of Adolescent Self-Report Measures From the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health." Journal of Adolescent Health, 28(1): 73–81, 2001. Abstract available online.

Svetaz MV, Ireland M and Blum RW. "Adolescents With Learning Disabilities: Risk and Protective Factors Associated With Emotional Well-Being. Findings From the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health." Journal of Adolescent Health, 27(5): 340–348, 2000. Abstract available online.

Reports

Blum RW and Rinehart PM. Protecting Teens: Beyond Race, Income and Family Structure. Minneapolis: Division of General Pediatrics & Adolescent Health, University of Minnesota Adolescent Health Program, 2000. Available online.

Blum RW, McNeely CA and Rinehart PM. Improving the Odds: The Untapped Power of Schools to Improve the Health of Teens. Minneapolis: Division of General Pediatrics & Adolescent Health, University of Minnesota Adolescent Health Program, 2002. Available online.

Blum RW. Mothers' Influence on Teen Sex: Connections That Promote Postponing Sexual Intercourse. Minneapolis: Division of General Pediatrics & Adolescent Health, University of Minnesota Adolescent Health Program, 2002. Available online.

Resnick MD and Rinehart PM. Influencing Behavior: The Power of Protective Factors in Reducing Youth Violence. Minneapolis: Division of General Pediatrics & Adolescent Health, University of Minnesota Adolescent Health Program, 2004. Available online.

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Report prepared by: Susan Parker
Reviewed by: Richard Camer
Reviewed by: Molly McKaughan
Program Officer: David J. Morse

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