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The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine
Board on Children Youth and  Families
Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education
Promoting Positive Adolescent Health Behaviors and Outcomes: Thriving in the 21st Century
  Optimal Health coverAdolescence is a period of immense growth, learning, exploration, and opportunity during which youth develop the knowledge, attitudes, and skills that will help them thrive throughout life. While most youth traverse
adolescence without incident, some need additional support to promote their optimal health.

Sometimes such support comes in the form of prevention or intervention programs designed to encourage healthy behaviors that will follow the adolescent through adulthood. A committee of the National Academies was asked to identify the key elements that help make these programs effective in improving outcomes for youth.

While limited research prevented the identification of a set of key components, the committee’s review of available evidence did reveal the strengths of population-wide programs that consider adolescent risk taking as normative, support social-emotional learning and positive youth development, and are provided from childhood throughout adolescence. The committee’s report urges federal agencies to support these programs, as well as further research to enable the identification of core components of effective interventions

Download the report Read the summary  |  Read the Highlights  |  Brief for Policymakers  |  Press Release

Sponsor: Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services



The focus of this study is to examine key program factors that can improve health outcomes related to adolescent behavior. Using evidence from a variety of youth-serving programs, the committee will recommend successful strategies that can be used to inform the effective implementation of federal programming initiatives, including the Teen Pregnancy Prevention program.

Recent Event

December 12, 2019 - Report Release Webinar - Promoting Positive Adolescent Health Behaviors and Outcomes: Thriving in the 21st Century

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine held a public release of the new report, Promoting Positive Adolescent Health Behaviors and Outcomes: Thriving in the 21st Century. The webinar included an overview of the study process and discussions of the report's conclusions, recommendation, and key messages.

Statement of Task

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine will convene an ad hoc committee to review key questions related to the effective implementation of the Teen Pregnancy Prevention (TPP) program. The committee, using an optimal health lens, will explore the scientific and public health literature surrounding key elements or core components effective in improving behavioral outcomes for youth. Specifically, the committee will analyze components of a variety of youth programs which may be successful in preventing adolescent-risk behaviors with the parallel goal of accelerating progress toward the discontinuation (and not merely the reduction) of those risks among currently engaged adolescents. The committee will identify the programs and outcomes to review and examine which factors contribute to optimal health. In addition, the committee will consider broader issues of methodology as they relate to examining specific components of programs in comparison to research that uses the program as the unit of analysis.

The report will recommend a research agenda that incorporates a focus on optimal health for youth. The report will also offer recommendations on ways that the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health (OASH) can use its role to foster the adoption of promising elements of youth-focused programs in the initiatives it oversees such as mental and physical health, adolescent development, and reproductive health and teen pregnancy. Drawing on lessons learned, the report will present recommendations on ways OASH youth-focused programs could be improved.

Open Activities of the Committee

April 17, 2019 - Public Information Gathering Session

Proceedings of workshop in brief


Comments to the Committee from the webcast were sent to
All comments received were added to the study's public access file.


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Activity Information

   Type: Consensus Study
   Topics:Children, Youth, and Families; 
   Board: Board on Children, Youth, and



Staff Information

Nicole Kahn, PhD, MEd
Study Director

Rebekah Hutton
Program Officer

Pamella Atayi
Program Coordinator



Committee Members


Robert Graham, MD
Committee Chair

Angela Bryan, PhD
Psychology and Neuroscience
University of Colorado Boulder

Tammy Chang, MD, MPH, MS
Assistant Professor
Family Medicine
University of Michigan

Rosalie Corona, PhD
Clinical Psychology
Virginia Commonwealth University

Tamera Coyne-Beasley, MD, MPH, FAAP, FSAHM
Derrol Dawkins, MD Endowed Chair in Adolescent Medicine
Professor of Pediatrics and Internal Medicine
Division Director, UAB Adolescent Medicine
Vice Chair, Pediatrics for Community Engagement
University of Alabama Birmingham

Bonnie Halpern-Felsher, PhD
Division of Adolescent Medicine
Department of Pediatrics
Stanford University

Jeff Hutchinson, MD
The Wade Alliance, LLC

Velma McBride Murry, PhD
Lois Autrey Betts Endowed Chair and Joe B. Wyatt Distinguished University Professor
Department of Human and Organizational Development
Vanderbilt University

Sandra Jo Wilson, PhD
Principal Associate
Abt Associates




U.S. Department of Health and Human Services



For more information, contact:

  Pamella Atayi

Phone: (202) 334-1996

Mailing Address:

National Academies of Sciences 

500 Fifth Street, NW

Washington, DC 20001



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