Adolescent Behavioral Cancer Prevention in the United States: Creating a Composite Variable and Ranking States’ Performance

Jennifer L. Moss, Benmei Liu, Li Zhu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Preventive behaviors established during adolescence can reduce cancer throughout the life span. Understanding the combinations of multiple behaviors, and how these behaviors vary across states, is important for identifying where additional interventions are needed. Using data on 2011-2015 vaccination, energy balance, and substance use from national surveys, we created state-level composite scores for adolescent cancer prevention. Hierarchical Bayesian linear mixed models were used to predict estimates for states with no data on select behaviors. We used a Monte Carlo procedure with 100,000 simulations to generate states’ ranks and 95% confidence intervals. Across states, hepatitis B vaccination was 84.3% to 97.1%, and human papillomavirus vaccination was 41.8% to 78.0% for girls and 19.0% to 59.3% for boys. For energy balance, 20.2% to 34.6% of adolescents met guidelines for physical activity, 4.1% to 15.8% for fruit and vegetable consumption, and 66.4% to 82.0% for healthy weight. For substance use, 82.5% to 93.5% reported abstaining from binge alcohol use, 84.3% to 95.4% from cigarette smoking, and 62.9% to 92.8% from marijuana use. (1) Rhode Island, (2) Colorado, (4) Hawaii and New Hampshire (tied), and (5) Vermont performed the best for adolescent cancer prevention, and (47) Missouri, (48) Arkansas, Mississippi, and South Carolina (tied), and (51) Kentucky performed the worst. However, 95% CIs around ranks often overlapped, indicating lack of statistical differences. Adolescent cancer prevention behaviors clustered into a composite index. States varied on their performance on this index, especially for states at the high and low extremes, but most states did not differ statistically. These findings can inform decision makers about where and how to intervene to improve cancer prevention among adolescents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)865-876
Number of pages12
JournalHealth Education and Behavior
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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