205119 Perceptions of Romantic Relationships Among Low Income Urban African-American Adolescents- Findings from Mobile Youth Survey

Monday, November 9, 2009: 3:31 PM

Beatrice Abiero , Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ
Chris Gary Lum, MSW , InnVision, San Jose, CA
John Bolland, PhD , College of Human & Environmental Services, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL
Brad Lian, PhD , College of Human & Environmental Services, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Tuscaloosa, AL
Background: Research on adolescent peer relationships among African Americans typically focuses on negative outcomes such as rates of sexual activity, pregnancy, HIV, and STIs. But positive outcomes in the domain of romantic relationships also exist. Here, we examined how characteristics of adolescent development (i.e., general self-worth, feelings of hopelessness, and ability to communicate) affect perceptions of romantic relationship, using a sample of African American adolescents living in low income neighborhoods.

Method: The sample consisted of 2351 adolescents (10-18 years) from the ninth wave (2006) of the Mobile Youth Survey, a multi-cohort longitudinal study of African American youth who were recruited from low income neighborhoods of Mobile, Alabama. Using a GLM framework, we estimated models of romantic relationship based on two different dependent variables, self-worth and positive beliefs about one's partner, while incorporating controls for age, gender, hopelessness, traumatic stress, types of communication outlets, and relationship status.

Results: Our findings indicate self-worth and positive beliefs about the qualities of boyfriends or girlfriends are predicted by age, level of general self-worth, hopelessness, communication with neighbors, teachers, and friends, and relationship status. As respondents aged, their perceptions of relationships became more negative. Communication dealing with worry and secondary traumatic stress was positively related.

Conclusion: Positives as well as negatives in every relationship exist, but previous research has typically neglected examining the positives among African American adolescents. The study findings provide information for researchers and health professionals on strategies to address psychosocial factors impacting normative adolescent romantic relationships who live in low income neighborhoods.

Learning Objectives:
1) Identify psychosocial characteristics of adolescent development that are related to perceptions of romantic relationships. 2) Discuss how the environment of African-American adolescents living in low income neighborhoods impact perceptions of romantic relationships.

Keywords: Adolescent Health, African American

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I took part in the research data collection process, consisting of IRB protocols, recruitment process, and implementing the survey process.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.