Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences



Committee Chair

Christina L Duncan

Committee Co-Chair

Elisa Krackow

Committee Member

Christa Lilly

Committee Member

Aaron Metzger

Committee Member

Natalie Shook


Burn injuries are a serious health concern for youth. In particular, adolescents are at risk for sustaining burn injuries, with recent estimates suggesting that adolescents make up nearly 30% of the burn injury cases treated in emergency departments in the United States. Despite the prevalence of burn injuries in adolescents, little research has examined possible correlates of adolescent fire-risk behavior (e.g., using accelerants to start a fire). To facilitate a better understanding of adolescent fire-risk behavior, the current study will use Ajzen's Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB) as a theoretical model. The TPB suggests that an individual's attitude towards the behavior, subjective norms or social pressure to engage in the behavior, and perceived behavioral control over the behavior together predict the person's behavioral intentions to engage in the behavior. The current study examined the utility of the TPB in explaining adolescents' behavioral intention to engage in fire-risk behaviors. In addition, this study investigated the utility of the components of the TPB to predict adolescents' behavioral intention to engage in fire-risk behaviors over and above various background variables (e.g., demographic, adolescent psychopathology). Participants were recruited from schools, clubs, and organizations in rural and urban areas in northern and central West Virginia and Kentucky. The current study included three study phases: (a) consulting with focus groups to devise content of study questionnaires; (b) piloting study questionnaires with a small sample of high school youth; and (c) using finalized questionnaires to test the model of the TPB in predicting fire-burn risk behaviors in a large sample of adolescents. Ten youth (ages 13-16) participated in the focus group discussions (Phase 1); their responses informed the content of two study questionnaires (i.e., Fire and Burn Injury Safety Questionnaire and TPB Questionnaire ). Results from the pilot study (Phase 2) administration ( n = 84; ages 13-19) suggested that both newly created measures had adequate psychometric properties. Finally, results from the third phase of the study (n = 222, ages 13-19) indicated that the components of the TPB (i.e., attitude towards the behavior, subjective norms, and perceived behavioral control) together significantly predicted adolescents' intention to engage in fire-risk behavior. In addition, attitude towards the behavior and subjective norms emerged as significant predictors of behavioral intentions; these variables also explained the variance in behavioral intentions to engage in fire-risk behaviors over and above various control variables (e.g., SES, gender, parental monitoring). Findings from this study suggest that attitudes toward fire-risk behaviors and perceived social pressure from others may be important to target when developing fire and burn prevention programs for adolescents.