Adolescents' Health: A Developmental Perspective

Adolescents' Health: A Developmental Perspective

Adolescents' Health: A Developmental Perspective

Adolescents' Health: A Developmental Perspective


This book is devoted to identifying the precursors of adolescents' health problems and risk taking behaviors and the developmental processes that accompany them. It presents data on lay conceptions of health and illness, physical maturity, causes of mortality and morbidity, and patterns of utilization of medical and psychosocial health care services. Developmental changes in risk perception, self-disclosure behavior, and in dealing with nudity are linked with doctor-patient communication to illustrate the typical obstacles health experts are faced with when trying to assess diagnostic information in this age group. Developmental barriers that hinder adolescents' compliance are highlighted and factors accounting for their aversion to counseling are reviewed.

This book also presents findings on typical stressors occurring during adolescence and their effect on health status as well as factors mediating the effect of stress on health. Throughout, readers gain valuable insight into gender differences, physical and psychological symptoms, and help-seeking behaviors. Special attention is directed to deficits in coping behavior, social support, and network structure of distressed adolescents and the current state of research relative to coping with chronic illness in adolescence is reviewed. Implications of these findings for the development of intervention strategies or for improving the health care of chronically ill adolescents and particularly troubled adolescents are detailed.

This volume will appeal to clinical and school psychologists, psychiatrists, physicians, counselors or other healthcare professionals working with adolescents as well as researchers in the field of adolescent health. It also serves as a text in graduate level courses on adolescent health, psychopathology, and developmental pediatrics.


The primary aim of this volume is to integrate findings on health and illness in adolescence. To this end, I argue the value of following a developmental approach to the study of health or illness in general, and especially for adolescents. Throughout this book the importance of specific developmental processes and the contribution of these processes to understanding the reciprocity between health and illness is emphasized. This developmental perspective is also important because biological, social, and behavioral processes unique to the adolescent period have far-reaching consequences for health promotion, disease prevention, and disease recovery.

Compared to other age groups, adolescents enjoy a relatively good overall health status, yet report diffuse somatic complaints and are more likely to develop psychopathological symptoms. Thus, much attention is devoted to discussing the factors that may be responsible for this discrepancy. Special attention is given to adolescents who show cumulative deficits in their development due to their exposure to highly stressful events and lack of internal coping resources and social support in order to deal with these stressors. General data on both physical and emotional illness, health-related behaviors, and attitudes in adolescence are supplemented by findings obtained in the framework of my own longitudinal studies of adolescent health. It will be seen that studies of development in adolescence nearly invariably focus on the physical . . .

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