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Adolescent development and risk of injury: using developmental science to improve interventions
  1. Sara B Johnson1,2,
  2. Vanya C Jones3
  1. 1Department of Pediatrics, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland, USA
  2. 2Department of Population, Family and Reproductive Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland, USA
  3. 3Department of Health, Behaviour and Society, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland, USA
  1. Correspondence to Sara Johnson, Division of General Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, 200N. Wolfe St, Room 2017, Baltimore, MD 212187, USA; sjohnson{at}


In adolescence, there is a complex interaction among physical, cognitive, and psychosocial developmental processes, culminating in greater risk-taking and novelty-seeking. Concurrently, adolescents face an increasingly demanding environment, which results in heightened vulnerability to injury. In this paper, we provide an overview of developmental considerations for adolescent injury interventions based on developmental science, including findings from behavioural neuroscience and psychology. We examine the role that typical developmental processes play in the way adolescents perceive and respond to risk and how this integrated body of developmental research adds to our understanding of how to do injury prevention with adolescents. We then highlight strategies to improve the translation of developmental research into adolescent injury prevention practice, calling on examples of existing interventions including graduated driver licensing.

  • Adolescent
  • interpersonal violence
  • intervention
  • development
  • psychological

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  • Funding This research was supported by the Haddon Fellowship in Injury Prevention, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (SJ), and National Institute of Mental Health Interdisciplinary Research Training on Violence, T32 #MH20014 (SJ).

  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.