Health risk behaviors and associated risk and protective factors among Brazilian Adolescents in Santos, Brazil

Marcia Anteghini, Helena Fonseca, Marjorie Ireland, Robert W. Blum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

98 Scopus citations


Objective: To describe the prevalence of health risk behaviors and identify risk and protective factors that are associated with several health risk behaviors (cigarette smoking, drug use, onset of sexual intercourse before age 15, pregnancy, gun-carrying, suicidal ideation, and suicide attempts) among adolescents in Brazil, as well as to explore gender differences. Methods: We estimated prevalence rates, evaluated bivariate associations, and explored multivariate analyses using logistic regression on data from a 1997 survey of adolescent health among 2059 eighth- and 10th-grade students in Santos, Brazil. Results: Youth in Santos, Brazil report high rates of gun-carrying, suicidal thoughts and attempts, sexual intercourse, and pregnancy. Factors associated with diminished involvement for nearly all health risk behaviors, for both boys and girls, included having good family relationships, and feeling liked by friends and teachers. Factors associated with increases in nearly all health risk behaviors were: gun-carrying and gun availability in the home, drug use, and sexual abuse. Conclusions: Factors that are associated with a wide range of health risk behaviors among adolescents in Brazil appear to parallel those found in industrialized countries: access to guns, substance use, and sexual abuse. Likewise, connectedness to family, school, and peers is consistently the protective factor associated with diminished risky behaviors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)295-302
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Adolescent Health
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Adolescents
  • Brazil
  • Protective factors
  • Risk behavior

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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