Abstract: Stress Profiles Among Rural African American Adolescents and Emerging Adults: Antecedents and Longitudinal Consequences (Society for Social Work and Research 24th Annual Conference - Reducing Racial and Economic Inequality)

Stress Profiles Among Rural African American Adolescents and Emerging Adults: Antecedents and Longitudinal Consequences

Sunday, January 19, 2020
Marquis BR Salon 8, ML 2 (Marriott Marquis Washington DC)
* noted as presenting author
Trenette Goings, Associate Professor, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Tianyi Yu, PhD, Associate Research Scientist, University of Georgia, GA
Gene Brody, PhD, Distinguished Research Professor of Human Development and Family Science, University of Georgia
Background and Purpose: African American youth bear a greater burden of stress than White and other youth of color. The purpose of this study was to identify profiles of stress among rural African American adolescents, examine how parenting styles relate to adolescents’ stress profiles, and determine how specific stress profiles relate to psychosocial outcomes in young adulthood. Methods: Data were drawn from the Strong African American Families Healthy Adolescent Project. The sample included 667 5th graders who were randomly selected from lists of fifth-grade students (M age = 11.2 years, SD = 0.34) and followed into young adulthood. All data were collected in respondents’ homes using a standardized protocol. We included a number of measures including stress indicators (perceived stress, daily stress, community disadvantage, parent-child conflict, racial discrimination, childhood abuse, and childhood neglect), parenting (parenting style, parent-child conflict, parental support, parental warmth), community disadvantage, perceived discrimination, and a number of psychosocial variables that were measured in young adulthood (self-regulation, racial identity, parental support, friend support, education, substance use, future/goal orientation, depressive symptoms, and externalizing behaviors). Latent profile analysis was used to identify groups of young adults who showed similar patterns of stress indicators. LPAs were performed with Mplus version 8.0. We conducted model comparison using a series of standard fit indices, including the Bayesian Information Criterion (BIC; Schwarz, 1978), the sample-size adjusted BIC (Sclove, 1987), the Akaike information criterion (AIC; Akaike, 1987)s, the Lo-Mendell-Rubin (LMR), and entropy. After the hypothesized groups were identified, we then used one-way analyses of variance with an F statistic to examine group differences on parenting processes during adolescence and psychosocial outcomes during young adulthood. Fisher’s least significance difference (LSD) post-hoc comparisons were used to test for significant differences among cell means. Analyses controlled for family socioeconomic status and adolescents’ biological sex. Results: Results indicated that this study’s sample of adolescents could be characterized by four patterns of stress: low stress, high stress, high stress-child neglect, and high stress-child abuse and neglect. Most of the sample reported high levels of stress; harsh, inconsistent, and cold parenting; low levels of racial identity, self-regulation, and parental or friend support; lower goal orientation; and higher levels of depressive symptoms, substance use, and externalizing problems. Parenting quality and style was associated with profiles of stress. Stress profiles were associated with multiple psychosocial outcomes in young adulthood. Conclusions and Implications: Results provide evidence of the heterogeneity that exists among rural African American adolescents in their experiences of perceived stress, with most rural African American adolescents reporting high levels of stress. Findings further reveal that across developmental stages and all study variables, the childhood trauma and high-stress groups were consistently worse off. African American adolescents, on average, are exposed to significantly greater environmental and interpersonal stressors. Future research should examine the stress that African Americans face and the potential consequences of stress on psychosocial and physiological outcomes as well as the protective factors and processes that allow many African Americans to live healthy lives.