Dong, B., Jacoby, S. F., Morrison, C. N., & Wiebe, D. J. (2019). Longitudinal heterogeneity in handgun-carrying behavior among urban American youth: intervention priorities at different life stages. Journal of Adolescent Health, 64(4), 502-508.
Purpose: To determine longitudinal patterns of handgun-carrying behavior among urban American youth and identify modifiable risk factors associated with distinct carrying patterns that should be targeted at different life stages.
Methods: Using panel data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997, we estimated longitudinal trajectories of handgun carrying among urban Americans, who carried a handgun at least once between 1997 and 2011 (N = 1,574). Multinomial logistic regression analyses examined risk factors associated with handgun-carrying trajectory groups during late adolescence (ages 16-20), emerging adulthood (ages 20-24), and young established adulthood (ages 24-28).
Results: Group-based trajectory analyses identified four groups: Declining (35.0%, N = 560), bell-shaped (35.5%; N = 561), late-initiating (19.6%; N = 303), and high-persistent (9.9%; N = 150). During late adolescence, lower risks of mental health problems, hard drug use, police arrest, and presence of a gang in the neighborhood or school differentiated the late-initiating group from the other higher risk groups. During emerging and young established adulthood, higher risks of alcohol use, police arrest, and presence of a gang in the neighborhood or school were associated with trajectory groups with higher likelihood of handgun carrying than the declining group.
Conclusions: There are more than one profile of adolescents and young adults who carry handguns. Preventive interventions should have distinct priorities that address different patterns of handgun-carrying behavior at different life stages.
Keywords: Handgun carrying; Intervention priorities; Longitudinal heterogeneity; Trajectory groups; Urban; Youth.