A latent profile analysis of the link between sociocultural factors and health-related risktaking among U.S. adults

Shattuck, Eric
Daniels, Colton
Xu, Xiaohe
Sunil, Thankam
Perrotte, Jessica K.
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Background: Research suggests that health/safety behaviors (e.g., drinking heavily) and medical behaviors (e.g., donating blood) may be perceived as inherently risky, and further suggests there is substantial variation in the likelihood of engaging in a particular health-related risk behavior across people. Research examining demographic and sociocultural factors related to both health/safety and medical risk-taking is highly limited. Importantly, with very few exceptions the literature examining health risks characterized by potentially hazardous health behaviors (e.g, heavy alcohol use, driving without a seatbelt) is kept separate from the literature examining health risks characterized by potentially beneficial medical behaviors (e.g., donating blood, taking medication). In the interest of health promotion, it is critical for researchers to identify – and describe – individuals who are less inclined to engage in health-harming behaviors while at the same time being more inclined to engage in health-benefiting behaviors. Identifying such a subtype of individuals was the guiding aim for this study.

Method: A national sample of adults in the United States responded to a survey on sociocultural and demographic correlates of health behaviors. Health-related risk-taking indicators were measured using the items from the health/safety and medical subscales of the DOSPERT-M. Subtypes of risk-takers were identified using latent profile analysis (LPA). Follow-up analyses to describe subtype demographic characteristics were conducted.

Results: LPA identified four subtypes of risk-takers, including a subtype (n = 565, 45% of the sample; labeled “divergent”) that was comprised of individuals who highly endorsed medical risk-taking (e.g., taking medicine, giving blood) and minimally endorsed health/safety risk-taking (e.g., drinking heavily, unprotected sex). Subsequent analyses suggested that, among other findings, divergent profile members were likely to be married, endorse familial interdependence, and orient toward masculinity rather than femininity.

Conclusion: By examining potentially modifiable factors related to individuals’ inclinations to engage in health protective behaviors, this study is an important step toward improving current health behavior interventions among U.S. adults.

Health risk, Medical risk, Health behaviors, Gender, Gender role, Individualism, Collectivism, Familism, Locus of control
Public Health
Institute for Health Disparities Research