Longitudinal effects of health-harming and health-protective behaviors within adolescent romantic dyads

Matthew C. Aalsma, Melissa Y. Carpentier, Faouzi Azzouz, J. Dennis Fortenberry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

10 Scopus citations


Most models exploring adolescent health behavior have focused on individual influences to understand behavior change. The goal of the current study was to assess the role of adolescent romantic partners on the expression of health behavior. Our sample utilized two waves of data from the US National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, which included 80 romantic dyads (160 individuals). A longitudinal multilevel analysis was conducted. We assessed individual and romantic partner health-harming behaviors (i.e., delinquency, alcohol use, smoking, and marijuana use), health-protective behaviors (i.e., physical activity, physical inactivity, sleep patterns, seatbelt use, and contraception motivations), as well as the role of gender and age. Participants average age was 16 years at baseline. We found evidence for partner similarity and partner influence with the majority of health-harming behaviors. Specifically, partner influence was evident for smoking and alcohol use with partner influence approaching significance for marijuana use. We found limited evidence for partner similarity and partner influence for health-protective behaviors. The importance of assessing romantic dyads was evident in these data. Interventions focusing on health-harming behavior for adolescent populations are important public health goals. It is recommended that future intervention efforts with adolescent health-harming behaviors should target not only peers, but also consider the role of romantic partners.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1444-1451
Number of pages8
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Issue number9
StatePublished - May 1 2012


  • Adolescence
  • Health behavior
  • Romantic couples
  • USA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • History and Philosophy of Science

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