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J Abnorm Child Psychol. 2019 Aug;47(8):1289-1301. doi: 10.1007/s10802-019-00515-8.

Protective Factors Buffer Life Stress and Behavioral Health Outcomes among High-Risk Youth.

Author information

1
Department of Psychology, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, 32611-2250, USA.
2
Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, USA.
3
Department of Psychology, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA, USA.
4
Department of Psychology, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL, USA.
5
Department of Psychology, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, 32611-2250, USA. dkertes@ufl.edu.

Abstract

This study investigated internalizing problems, externalizing problems, and polydrug use among African-American youth residing in high-poverty neighborhoods, and tested the potential protective effects of religiosity, parental monitoring, and neighborhood collective efficacy on life stress and behavioral health outcomes (N = 576; 307 females; Mage = 16 years, SD = 1.44 years). A cumulative risk index reflected the combined effects of past year exposure to stressful life events, racial discrimination, and exposure to violence along with poor neighborhood ecology. Structural equation modeling revealed that cumulative risk significantly predicted internalizing problems, externalizing problems, and polydrug use. Interaction tests showed that the association of cumulative risk with internalizing problems was buffered by adolescent religiosity and neighborhood collective efficacy. The association of cumulative risk with externalizing problems was buffered by parental monitoring and collective efficacy. Adolescent sex further moderated these effects. The findings of the present study collectively highlight potential for protective factors to buffer effects of cumulative risk on behavioral health outcomes among youth residing in high-risk neighborhoods.

KEYWORDS:

Adolescence; Behavioral health; Externalizing problems; High-risk environments; Internalizing problems; Life stress; Neighborhood factors; Parenting; Protective factors; Substance use

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