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This study employs a meta-theoretical perspective for examining risk perceptions and behavior in the rural, Appalachian cultural context, an area that remains largely unexplored. In-depth interviews were conducted with 113 rural adolescents to describe how youth conceptualize risk and how risk is communicated in the rural environment. Analyses revealed adolescents viewed behavior as risky when they had personal or vicarious experiences resulting in a loss of control or physical harm. Elements of the rural Appalachian culture including activities, familism, and community ties can both prevent and promote adolescent risk-taking in various forms. This study demonstrates the conceptualization of risk and messages about risk are culturally-situated and communicatively devised and enacted. The implications of these findings for adolescent risk prevention programs are discussed.


This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published in Journal of Health Communication, volume 18, issue 6, in 2013, available online: DOI: 10.1080/10810730.2012.743620.


Taylor & Francis



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