Problem Behaviors in Inner-City Adolescents with Chronic Illness

Elizabeth M. Alderman, Jennifer L. Lauby, Susan M. Coupey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


This study examines the prevalence of problem behaviors (sexual activity, substance use, delinquency, and school failure) in a clinical hospital-based sample of 217 inner-city, 14 to 17 year olds with a variety of serious, chronic medical illnesses and compares this prevalence to that in a group of 121 similaraged, healthy friends with no known chronic illnesses living in the same community. No differences were found between groups in substance use, delinquency, percent who had ever had sexual intercourse, or mean age at first intercourse. There was a significant interaction effect of chronic illness and gender on age at first intercourse (p =.015); boys without chronic illness initiated sexual intercourse at a younger age than those with an illness. Conversely, girls with a chronic illness initiated sexual intercourse at a younger age than their girlfriends without illness. Contrary to expectations, significantly more of the healthy friends had repeated a grade in school than had those with chronic illness (p =.002). Results are discussed in terms of the interrelationships of chronic illness, gender, and environment on problem behaviors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)339-344
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1995


  • adolescents
  • chronic illness
  • problem behaviors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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