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Early adolescence is the period in human life-span development, which is associated with various physiological and psychological changes during puberty, and other socio-cultural developments experienced by adolescents (Wang et al., 2010, p. 314).
During this period, studies show that many adolescents tend to engage in different risk behaviors such as drinking alcohol, having unprotected sex relationships, and smoking among other behaviors, which predispose them to different chronic health complications.
Additionally, studies indicate that this period is also critical in the prevention and management of these risk behaviors among the adolescents (Wang et al., 2010). Therefore, this paper takes a critical look at the article, ‘Risk behaviors among early adolescents: risk and protective factors’ by Wang et al. with the aim of highlighting the clinical significance and practical implications of the study.
The study conducted by Wang et al. was aimed at examining the impact of risk and protective factors in influencing various risk behaviors among a group of adolescents in junior high school.
In their study, the researchers utilized research articles published in the last 15 years to build a strong theoretical framework, which shows that the adolescence stage is very critical in the development of certain risk behaviors implicated in the development of negative health outcomes among the adolescents.
Furthermore, the study utilizes additional research studies involving Taiwanese adolescents to strengthen their case regarding the strong relationship between risk and protective factors on one hand and risk behaviors on the other (Wang et al., 2010).
Conversely, the authors are keen to provide a clear aim, which entails examining the relationship between risk or protective factors and risk behaviors among junior high school adolescents. However, the study does not outline clearly stated hypotheses despite that the study design provides a proper foundation for a successful study in terms of determining the adequate sample size for testing the hypotheses (Wang et al., 2010, p. 316).
Additionally, the participants of the study are chosen in such a way that the ethnicity factor among the junior high school students is considered. Here, it is important to note that some risk or protective factors and their respective risk behaviors may vary depending on whether the participants are selected from an aboriginal or non-aboriginal school. As a result, the study involves 878 participants out of the 1129 students chosen because the former did satisfy all the variables determined.
Furthermore, the study utilizes a well structured questionnaire in data collection, which captures all the independent and dependent study variables and student demographics in a single document administered by qualified personnel. In addition, the study took all the ethical considerations into perspective before administering the questionnaires. Moreover, the validity and reliability of all the items appearing in the questionnaire was confirmed by qualified nursing and adolescent-heath professionals (Wang et al., 2010).
On the other hand, the study utilizes the most recent version of SPSS to analyze the data collected. Furthermore, Pearson’s correlation tests are also used in determining the correlations between different variables in the study. And in order to factor in the cluster effect among the participants, the SAS analytical software was used in data analysis.
Moreover, the results are presented in distribution tables with full descriptions including additional analysis scales regarding different statistical data analyses. Subsequently, the researchers are keen to note that the study has a few limitations, which include the low reliability of some scales designed to measure different variables, and thus there is the need for future studies to develop different study scales (Wang et al., 2010, p. 322).
Here, the authors note that future studies should at least add some items to the study scales in order to increase their alpha reliability. Furthermore, the study is limited in terms of the generality of results because the study utilizes a convenience sampling approach to determine the sample size.
Finally, the study being a cross-sectional one, the researchers were unable to determine the root causes of certain relationships between different variables. As a result, future studies should involve longitudinal study designs, which will then give more insights into the relationships between specific risk or protective factors and their respective risk behaviors (Wang et al., 2010).
Regarding the discussion of results, the researchers present an in-depth analysis of the results besides highlighting the significance of the study findings and their future implications in nursing practice. Here, the researchers utilize research articles published in the last 10 years to support the strong arguments presented in the discussion.
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Furthermore, the conclusion is clearly drawn from the study findings, and it reflects the practical implications of the whole study in nursing practice. Finally, the research article acknowledges the contribution made by other people besides the authors including a declaration that there is no conflict of interest that has been raised regarding the originality of the study.
The clinical significance of the study
As noted earlier, the early adolescence stage involves a period when most young people begin to develop risk behavior some of which are can be attributed to their immediate surroundings including family members, peers, and the media (Blum et al., 2000, p. 1879). Additionally, most studies including the current one show that risk factors can increase the likelihood that adolescents will develop some risk behaviors as they mature.
On the other hand, the same studies show that protective factors tend to minimize the likelihood that the adolescents will develop certain risk behaviors in the future (Benard, 2002; Chang et al., 2007, p. 252).
Moreover, the current study shows that most risk behaviors demonstrated by the participants are associated with certain variables such as the male gender, observed father’s and mother’s risk behaviors, a combination of health self-efficacy norms and identified peer’s risk behaviors, and the relations between emotional control and identified peer’s risk behaviors (Wang et al., 2010; Olds & Thombs, 2001, p. 223).
On the other hand, some protective factors such as health self-efficacy and emotional control have a positive impact on risk behaviors in terms of moderating the negative effects associated with some identified peer’s risk behaviors (Olds & Thombs, 2001).
Hence, taking the above-mentioned observations into perspective, there are enough reasons to believe that community-based nurses and other adolescent health professionals have a paramount role to play in terms of helping the adolescents to realize the need to manage certain risk factors.
Here, the role played by both the society and nursing professionals cannot be overlooked because most of the risk factors associated with the risk behaviors are psychologically and socially inclined (Chang et al., 2007).
Hence, the clinical significance of this study is that it enables the community-based nurses to identify relevant data that can be used to realign the available resources towards ensuring that those risk factors with the greatest negative impact on the behavior of adolescents are given the first priority in developing and implementing nursing interventions.
The practical implications of the study
Certainly, the study notes that nurses have a greater role to play in terms of enabling adolescents to overcome the negative impact of certain risk factors through providing them with relevant skills in improving their health self-efficacy, enhancing their self-esteem, and controlling their emotions.
Here, the nurses should develop and implement community-based and school-based interventions aimed at identifying strategies that can be used in reducing risk behaviors among the groups at risk (Rew & Horner, 2003, p. 378). Furthermore, the current study provides a good theoretical basis, which can be used in the future to develop strategies and identifying the role played by specific protective factors in moderating the negative impact of specific risk factors associated with specific risk behaviors among the adolescents (Wang et al., 2010).
As a result, such important data can help the community-based nurses to come up with very specific health interventions aimed at reducing the negative impact of specific risk factors on the development of various risk behaviors among the populations at risk.
This research paper presents a detailed critique of the article, ‘Risk behaviors among early adolescents: risk and protective factors’, which entails a research study aimed at examining the relationship between certain risk or protective factors and risk behaviors among junior high school students.
In the study, it is worth noting that the researchers identify various risk behaviors among the adolescents such as smoking, violence, low self-esteem, engaging in unprotected sex intercourse, and poor eating habits and physical inactivity, which are attributed to various environmental factors such as peer pressure, family practices, and the influence of the media.
On the other hand, the researchers identify various protective factors such as increased self-esteem, health self-efficacy, and emotional control, which play a very important role in moderating the negative impact of the risk factors in the development of risk behaviors among the adolescents. Furthermore, the study notes that nurses and other adolescent health practitioners have a major role to play in terms of helping the groups at risk to overcome the negative impacts of the risk factors and build on the benefits of the protective factors.
Benard, B. (2002). Fostering resiliency in kids: Protective factors in the family, school, and community. Far West Laboratory, San Francisco, CA: Western Regional Center for Drug-Free Schools and Communities.
Blum, R.W., Beuhring, T., Shew, M.L., Bearinger, L.H., Sieving, R.E. & Resnick, M.D. (2000). The effects of race/ethnicity, income, and family structure on adolescent risk behaviors. American Journal of Public Health, 90(12), 1879–1884.
Chang, H.J., Lin, M.F. & Lin, K.C. (2007). The mediating and moderating roles of the cognitive triad on adolescent suicidal ideation. Nursing Research, 56(4), 252–259.
Olds, R.S. & Thombs, D.L. (2001). The relationship of adolescent perceptions of peer norms and parent involvement to cigarette and alcohol use. Journal of School Health 71(6), 223–228.
Rew, L. & Horner, S.D. (2003). Youth resilience framework for reducing health-risk behaviors in adolescents. Journal of Pediatric Nursing 18(6), 378–388.
Wang, R.H., Hsu, H.Y., Lin, S.Y., Cheng, C.P. & Lee, S.L. (2010). Risk behaviors among early adolescents: Risk and protective factors. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 66(22), 313-323.