Aggregating Indices of Risk and Protection for Adolescent Behavior Problems: The Communities That Care Youth Survey

Mark E. Feinberg, Ty A. Ridenour, Mark T. Greenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Purpose: To facilitate research on adolescent risk and protection regarding behavior problems, and to facilitate community decision-making regarding resource allocation for intervention programs, by creating a reduced set of coherent aggregate indices of adolescent risk and protection. Methods: We examined the 31 risk and protective factor scales in the Communities That Care Youth Survey (CTC-YS). Data came from two waves of the CTC-YS administered to sixth through 12th graders in Pennsylvania (2001 n = 43,842; 2003 n =101,988). Factor analysis and calculation of internal reliability were used to create aggregate indices of risk/protective factor domains. Correlations of aggregate indices with each other and with problem behaviors (antisocial behavior, substance use) were examined. Results: Theory and empirical results led to the creation of seven coherent indices: Community Cohesion, Family Cohesion, Family Risk, School Support for Prosocial Activities, Antisocial Peer Domain, Attitudes toward Risky Behavior, Risky Behavioral Tendencies. Four scales were not included in the aggregate index (Religiosity, Academic Performance, Personal Transitions and Mobility, and Early Initiation of Drug Use and Antisocial Behavior). The indices were related to each other and to adolescent problem behaviors (antisocial behavior and substance use) in expected ways. Results were consistent across waves of data. Conclusions: The construction of theoretically meaningful and empirically defensible aggregate measures of adolescent risk and protective factors is possible, although analyses of other data sets and further discussion are warranted. The use of aggregate indices by researchers and communities is recommended as a way to facilitate research and decision-making.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)506-513
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Adolescent Health
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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


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