The Adolescent Positive Health team has three primary goals:
1) To define and measure adolescent positive health, with consideration of the concurrent associations amongst mental, physical, and social well-being.
2) To investigate concurrent correlates of positive health in adolescence, such as personality and health behaviors.
3) Explore prospective associations between psychological and physical health in adolescence and adulthood.
Over the past two years, we have developed our infrastructure and framework to address these goals. We are now in the process of analyzing and disseminating our findings. Our project involves several major activities:
First, we are developing the EPOCH Measure of Adolescent Well-being, which aims to assess positive adolescent psychological function in terms of five domains: Engagement, Perseverance, Optimism, Connectedness, and Happiness.
Second, we are using existing longitudinal studies to examine prospective associations between adolescent and adult psychological and physical aspects of health. In this extensive project, we created a database and comprehensive coding system, and have coded the items from 25 studies into the database. The extensive classification system identifies which samples have similar items and potentially can be combined. Bringing together similar items, we are now testing models across samples to investigate which items and constructs measured in adolescence are most predictive of adult physical, psychological, and social outcomes, as well as mechanisms and moderators of these associations. Eventually, we hope to make an online version of the database available to the research community.
Third, we are conducting our own longitudinal study. In 1987-1990, high school students from 9 schools in Wisconsin and California were surveyed. The participants are now in their early 40s. We are following up with the original participants from the Wisconsin schools, to examine long-term predictors of health and well-being in middle adulthood.