Online Program

Role of gender and traumatic experiences in predicting mental health problems in juvenile detainees

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Sandina Begic, PhD, Psychology, Center for Health Policy, Boise State University, Boise, ID
Loren Toussaint, PhD, Psychology, Department of Psychology, Luther College, Decorah, IA
Stephanie Lindsay, Center for Health Policy, Boise State University, Boise
Elsa Howard, BS Psychology, Center for Health Policy, Boise State University, Boise, ID
Tedd McDonald, PhD Psychology, Center for Health Policy, Boise State University, Boise, ID
Ample research suggests that girls in detention have a higher prevalence of mental health (MH) problems than boys, and a good deal of research also shows that detained juveniles who have a history of traumatic experiences (TE) also have a higher prevalence of MH problems. Because it has been determined that detained girls also report a higher incidence of TE than boys, the effects of gender and TE on MH status seem to be intertwined. The purpose of this study was to examine a meditational model that explains gender differences in MH through the mechanism of gender differences in TE. Alaska Screening Tool MH and MAYSI-2 TE indications on 1,481 juveniles detained in one of 11 juvenile detention centers in Idaho were analyzed in a meditational model using logistic regression methods. The results showed that the total effect of gender on MH problems was statistically significant (odds ratio = 1.62), and this effect was not reduced to zero after entering TE into the equation (odds ratio = 1.47). A test of the indirect effect of gender on MH problems through TE was conducted and found to be statistically significant (Z = 3.93, p < .001). In sum, females are at significantly increased odds of mental health problems and a significant part of this increased risk is attributable to their increased prevalence of trauma exposure. These results suggest that girls entering juvenile detention centers should be considered more likely to suffer from MH problems, perhaps as a result of TE.

Learning Areas:

Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Identify the prevalence of MH problems in detained juveniles in nationally and in Idaho Assess how gender and TE appear interrelated in their association with MH problems Assess the unique and combined effects of gender and TE on MH prevalence in detained juveniles

Keyword(s): Mental Health, Youth

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: For nearly two years, I have been a researcher on several evaluation projects focusing on the prevalence of mental health and substance abuse disorders in delinquent youth in detention centers within Idaho.
Any relevant financial relationships? Yes

Name of Organization Clinical/Research Area Type of relationship
Idaho Department of Juvenile Corrections Program Evaluation Independent Contractor (contracted research and clinical trials)

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.