Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 47, Issue 8, pp 1595–1610 | Cite as

Using a Modified Theory of Planned Behavior to Examine Adolescents’ Workplace Safety and Health Knowledge, Perceptions, and Behavioral Intention: A Structural Equation Modeling Approach

  • Rebecca J. GuerinEmail author
  • Michael D. Toland
  • Andrea H. Okun
  • Liliana Rojas-Guyler
  • Amy L. Bernard
Empirical Research


Work, a defining feature of adolescence in the United States, has many benefits. Work also has risks, as adolescents experience a higher rate of serious job-related injuries compared to adults. Talking Safety, a free curriculum from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, is one tool educators may adopt to provide teens with essential workplace safety and health education. Adolescents (N = 2503; female, 50.1%; Hispanic, 50.0%) in a large urban school district received Talking Safety from their eighth-grade science teachers. This study used a modified theory of planned behavior (which included a knowledge construct), to examine students’ pre- and post-intervention scores on workplace safety and health knowledge, attitude, self-efficacy, and behavioral intention to enact job safety skills. The results from confirmatory factor analyses indicate three unique dimensions reflecting the theory, with a separate knowledge factor. Reliability estimates are ω ≥ .83. The findings from the structural equation models demonstrate that all paths, except pre- to posttest behavioral intention, are statistically significant. Self-efficacy is the largest contributor to the total effect of these associations. As hypothesized, knowledge has indirect effects on behavioral intention. Hispanic students scored lower at posttest on all but the behavioral intention measure, possibly suggesting the need for tailored materials to reach some teens. Overall the findings support the use of a modified theory of planned behavior to evaluate the effectiveness of a foundational workplace safety and health curriculum. This study may inform future efforts to ensure that safe and healthy work becomes integral to the adolescent experience.


Adolescents Young workers Theory of planned behavior Occupational safety and health Injury prevention Structural equation modeling 



We thank our partners in the Miami-Dade Public Schools (M-DCPS) for making this research possible: Mr. Cristian Carranza, Administrative Director, Division of Academics (STEAM); Dr. Ava D. Rosales, Executive Director, and Mr. Dane Jaber, Instructional Supervisor, Department of Mathematics and Science; the M-DCPS School Board. For their reviews of the manuscript, we thank Jeff Reese, PhD, and Fred Danner, PhD, University of Kentucky. For editorial comments, we thank John Lechliter and Jeanette Novakovich, NIOSH.

Authors’ Contributions

R.G. conceived of the study, collected the data, conducted the statistical analyses and drafted the manuscript. M.T. performed the statistical analyses and assisted with drafting the manuscript. A.O. assisted with the research design, coordination, data collection, and manuscript review. L.R.G. and A.B. participated in the interpretation of the data and manuscript review. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.


This work was funded with internal NIOSH research funds.

Data Sharing Declaration

This manuscript’s data will not be deposited.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

This research was conducted in accordance with the ethical standards of the NIOSH Institutional Review Board (IRB)/NIOSH Human Research Protection Program (HRPP) and with the 1975 Helsinki declaration as revised in 2000.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rebecca J. Guerin
    • 1
    Email author
  • Michael D. Toland
    • 2
  • Andrea H. Okun
    • 1
  • Liliana Rojas-Guyler
    • 3
  • Amy L. Bernard
    • 3
  1. 1.National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)CincinnatiUSA
  2. 2.Department of Educational, School, and Counseling PsychologyUniversity of KentuckyLexingtonUSA
  3. 3.Health Promotion and Education ProgramUniveristy of CincinnatiCincinnatiUSA

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