Lessons from a Major Federal Study of Adolescent Health Made Available in Print and on Radio and TV

From 1996 to 1998, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) disseminated the first series of findings from the $25 million federally funded National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health).

The National Institutes of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) and 16 other federal agencies had funded the study, but provided no funding for dissemination of findings.

The University of Minnesota and Burness Communications, under contract to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, were responsible for dissemination. J. Richard Udry, PhD, of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill was the principal investigator for Add Health, which was mandated by the US Congress in 1993. It was designed to help explain the causes of adolescent health and health behavior with special emphasis on the effects of environmental influences such as school, community, and peers—on adolescent life.

Key Results

  • A monograph, "Reducing the Risk: Connections That Make a Difference In the Lives of Youth," summarized the findings and was disseminated to more than 38,000 policy-makers, health service providers, youth advocates, educators, parents and others who make decisions affecting the health of adolescents.

  • An article, "Protecting Adolescents from Harm: Findings From the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health," was published in the September 10, 1997, issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

  • During the month of September 1997, interviews with the principal and co-investigators were aired on national television and radio programs and covered in national, regional and local newspapers including The Washington Post, The New York Times and The Boston Globe.