Defining Young Adulthood
Young adulthood is a unique developmental period that occurs between the ages of 18 and 25 years, during which there are key developmental tasks that allow the young adult to participate in self-exploration and identity formation. Currently, among various organizations there are differing definitions and age range inclusions for young adulthood, which cause confusion during program development, healthcare service delivery, and research. Young adulthood should be categorized separately from adolescence and adulthood, because young adults have lower rates of healthcare utilization and worse health outcomes related to preventable causes of morbidity and mortality than the surrounding age groups. Young adults experience relatively high rates of injuries, mental health issues, substance use, and sexual/reproductive health conditions. Due to their increased likelihood of risk-taking behavior and related poor health outcomes, young adults are in a vulnerable state. Nurse practitioners, specifically family nurse practitioners, can best meet the health needs of young adults as they are trained to provide whole-person care while emphasizing education and health promotion across the life continuum. Moving forward, nurse practitioners can and should be leaders in providing healthcare services to young adults to improve their health outcomes.