Methods: Profile analysis, the repeated measures extension of multivariate analysis of variance, was conducted to compare incarcerated African American girls with (n=93) and without (n=50) a substance use disorder across eight subscales measuring personal functioning (depression, self-esteem, aggression, personal stress, feelings of guilt, confused thinking and disturbing thoughts) and five subscales measuring social functioning (problems with mother, problems with father, problems with school, and family relationship problems). Chi-square and t test statistics were conducted to examine differences between girls with and without a substance use disorder on mental health and trauma variables.
Results: Girls with a substance use disorder reported higher levels of problem severity related to personal functioning. They were more likely to have problems related to aggression, confused thinking, and disturbing thoughts. While girls with a substance use disorder had a higher mean score on the aggression subscale, both groups had scores in the clinical range. Girls with a substance use disorder scored higher (M = 2.16, SD = 1.66) than girls without a substance use disorder (M=1.48, SD =1.46) on the Traumatic Experiences subscale of the MAYSI2 and had a higher proportion (45.6%) of being classified into the “high total score, likely has PTSD” category of the mental health assessment questionnaire than girls without a substance use disorder (34.7%). There were no significant differences between the two groups on subscales measuring social functioning and in rates of meeting criteria for the following mental health disorders: conduct, mood, adjustment, anxiety, and oppositional defiance disorders.
Conclusion and Implications: The present study expands our understanding of the similar and diverse needs of incarcerated African American girls. The findings indicate that incarcerated African American girls with and without a substance use disorder may benefit from culturally relevant interventions that address mental health, aggression, and lifetime trauma. While girls with and without a substance use disorder share some of the same treatment needs, the severity of those needs differ, particularly as they relate to trauma issues. Accordingly, incarcerated African American girls with a substance use disorder may benefit from more intense interventions that focus on cognitive restructuring.