Date of Submission

Spring 3-10-2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)



First Advisor

Alexa Curtis


Adolescents and young adults are developmentally inclined to seek autonomy and take risks. This propensity for risk and challenging boundaries is essential for personal identity formation and belief systems development. During the transition to adulthood, adolescents and young adults often place a high value on peer group acceptance and adhering to perceived social norms. As a result, adolescents and young adults are more likely to engage in pleasure-seeking behaviors despite the associated risks.

The potential for harm often grows in young adulthood, as newfound freedoms present more significant opportunities to engage in risk-taking behaviors. Despite some enduring controversy, age-specific, preventative health services, including mental health and substance use counseling, are critical aspects of adolescent and young adult health care. The exposures and habits formed during these early development periods can have detrimental health consequences long term. Young adults living in conservative rural communities may be at an increased risk for poor health outcomes related to risk-taking behaviors due to limited access to age-appropriate health services. Rural public health workers and providers can improve access to mental health and substance use services by ensuring service efficiency, confidentiality, and controlling for patient costs. Promoting problem recognition skills, active coping, and normalizing help-seeking behaviors are essential strategies for improving rural youth engagement. Community partnerships with local schools and youth programs may reduce the impacts of external stigmatization and promote service utilization.

Included in

Nursing Commons