Keywords: latent class analysis, survey data, adolescent health
Risky behaviors such as experimentation with substance use and sexual risk-taking are widely known to emerge together during adolescence. However, most studies examine these behaviors in isolation. This study aims to examine the co-occurrence of substance use and sexual behaviors through a latent class analysis of 9th grade students. The sample (n=2,261) is comprised of Latino and African American youth from an urban, socioeconomically disadvantaged community where these adverse health behaviors are more likely to be reported. Four classes of risk behavior engagement yielded the best overall fit to the data and were identified as: substance use only (35%); pre-sexual behaviors only (7%); low levels of risky behaviors engagement (38%); and high levels of risky behaviors engagement (19%). Multinomial logistic regression revealed that depression, gender, household profile, and ethnicity significantly impact the probability of class membership. The results of this study can provide impetus for development of interventions and policies that target multiple risk behaviors in populations most at risk for adverse health outcomes.