Back to Annual Meeting Page
American Public Health Association
133rd Annual Meeting & Exposition
December 10-14, 2005
Philadelphia, PA
APHA 2005
4148.0: Tuesday, December 13, 2005 - 12:50 PM

Abstract #112224

Psychological Well-Being of Children in Poverty: How Does Family Structure Matter?

Robert Leibson Hawkins, PhD, MPA, School of Social Work, New York University, 1 Washington Square North, New York, NY 10003 and Emily S. Ihara, PhD, MSW, H. Jack Geiger Congressional Health Policy Fellow, W. K. Kellogg Foundation, 1601 Argonne Place NW #107, Washington, DC 20009, 202-462-6672, ihara@alumni.brandeis.edu.

This study builds on existing research about single mothers and their children by addressing the complexity of families in poverty. The current research on female-headed households suggests that two married parents in the same household are better for child well-being than single-parent homes. This study examines and compares children growing up with single mothers and those in married-coupled households. Data are drawn from the National Survey of America's Families (NASF) and consists of different types of married families (biological, adopted, or step), who are compared with single-mother households (N = 6,960). The study specifically examines whether father absence, step-family status, single parenthood, and other factors pay a role in childhood depression, stress, self-esteem, and overall life satisfaction. This study uses a causal model to examine the relationships, correlations, and interactions between mental health status and social and environmental factors in children's lives based on family structure. Chi-Square analysis was used to compare the differences in single-mother or married coupled households. Ordinary Least Squares (OLS) multiple regression and path analysis were used to determine direct and indirect effects of family structure on child's psychological well-being. Findings show that while children raised in single-mother households are at greater risk for lower psychological well-being than children from households where their biological parents are married, step families and adopted families do not follow the same pattern. Further, all findings are affected by a complex set of socio-environmental factors. Implications for policy and practice are discussed.

Learning Objectives: Participants will

Keywords: Child/Adolescent Mental Health, Family Involvement

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

I wish to disclose that I have NO financial interests or other relationship with the manufactures of commercial products, suppliers of commercial services or commercial supporters.

Child and Adolescent Mental Health: The Role of Violence, Poverty, and Juvenile Justice Involvement

The 133rd Annual Meeting & Exposition (December 10-14, 2005) of APHA