Promoting “Healthy Futures” to Reduce Risk Behaviors in Urban Youth: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Sarah Lindstrom Johnson, Vanya Jones, Tina L. Cheng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


There is increasing evidence of the interconnection between educational and health outcomes. Unfortunately wide disparities exist by both socioeconomic status and race/ethnicity in educational and vocational success. This study sought to promote urban youths’ career readiness as a way to reduce involvement in risk behaviors. Two hundred primarily African-American youth (ages 14–21) were recruited from a pediatric primary care clinic. Youth randomized to the intervention received three motivational interviewing sessions focused around expectations and planning for the future. Baseline and 6-month follow-up assessments included measures of career readiness and risk behavior involvement (i.e., physical fighting, alcohol and marijuana use). At 6-months, youth randomized to the intervention condition showed increased confidence in their ability to perform the behaviors needed to reach their college/career goals. Additionally, youth randomized to the intervention arm showed decreased fighting behavior (adjusted rate ratio:.27) and marijuana use (adjusted rate ratio:.61). Assisting urban youth in thinking and planning about their future holds promise as a way to reduce their involvement in risk behaviors. This study also demonstrated that motivational interviewing could be used to promote positive behaviors (i.e., career readiness).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)36-45
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican journal of community psychology
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Sep 27 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Adolescent
  • Health and educational disparities
  • Positive youth development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Applied Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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