242878 Pathways from neighborhood characteristics to African American adolescents' mental health outcomes: A multilevel mediation path analysis

Wednesday, November 2, 2011: 8:50 AM

Noelle Hurd, PhD MPH , Center for the Study of Black Youth in Context, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
Sarah Stoddard, PhD , School of Nursing, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
Marc Zimmerman, PhD , Department of Health Behavior and Health Education, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
Guided by Bronfenbrenner's (1979) ecological model, researchers are increasingly reporting the importance of considering how neighborhood environments may operate via more proximate mechanisms to influence individual health outcomes. In the current study, we tested a multilevel mediation model to examine how neighborhood characteristics may affect African American adolescents' mental health outcomes via their influence on adolescents' cumulative social support and perceptions of their neighborhood. Five hundred and seventy-one African American adolescents participated in the current study (mean age = 17.8, SD = .65; 52% female). Four neighborhood-level characteristics were assessed at the block group level using the 1990 US census data (US Census, 1990): percent of African American residents, residential stability, neighborhood poverty rate, and neighborhood unemployment rate. Our measure of social support was a cumulative measure that included support from four sources: mothers, fathers, peers, and natural mentorship. Five items were used to assess the extent to which participants felt their neighborhoods were supportive and cohesive (Buckner, 1988). Depressive and anxiety symptoms were assessed using the Brief Symptom Inventory (Dergatis & Spencer, 1982). We found significant indirect effects linking residence in communities with more African American and residentially stable residents with fewer symptoms of depression and anxiety among African American adolescent residents. We also found indirect effects connecting residence in communities with higher poverty and unemployment rates with more depressive and anxiety symptoms among participants. Implications of study findings for intervention and policy affecting urban, African American communities will be discussed.

Learning Areas:
Diversity and culture
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
1.) List neighborhood characteristics that may contribute to African American adolescentsí mental health. 2.) Discuss the potential for neighborhood environments to simultaneously exert positive and negative effects on residentsí mental health. 3.) Evaluate current programs and policies aimed at promoting healthier outcomes among African American youth residing in urban, economically disadvantaged communities.

Keywords: Mental Health, Adolescents

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to present because I have been conducting research on risk and protective factors for urban, African American adolescents' health outcomes for the past 7 years.
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.