Methods: The sample consisted of 800 inner-city Dominican and Puerto Rican adolescent–mother dyads in South Bronx, New York City. The study used a five-wave panel design as youth transitioned from middle school to high school (i.e., two semesters of the 8th grade, two semesters of the 9th grade, and one semester of the 10th grade). Adolescents' and mothers' perceived discrimination experiences at 8th grade were used to predict their depressive symptoms prospectively. Adolescent alcohol use intentions at 10th grade were the primary outcome in this study. Adolescents’ and mothers’ depressive symptoms measured by Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9) across five waves were used as mediators. Structural equation modeling (SEM) in the Mplus was used to test the hypothesized paths. Joint significance tests were used for mediation analysis, and multiple group analyses were used for testing interaction effects.
Results: The model has satisfactory model fit (Chi-Square Test of Model Fit: 91.027, df = 89, p = .421; RMSEA: 0.005; 90% CI: 0.000, 0.020; CFI: 1.000; SRMR: 0.024). Results showed that self-reported racial and ethnic discrimination experiences at 8th grade by inner-city Latinx adolescents were associated with increases in their immediate and long-term depressive symptoms, which in turn were associated with stronger future intentions to use alcohol at 10thgrade. Latinx mothers’ perceived racial and ethnic discrimination (at 8th grade of adolescents) was associated with increases in adolescents’ future drinking intentions at 10th grade through increased mothers’ depressive symptoms and, in turn, adolescents’ depressive symptoms. There were no statistically significant interaction effects found for sex and nativity status based on multiple-group analyses.
Conclusions and Implications: This study found both an immediate and persistent carryover influence of perceived racial and ethnic discrimination on adolescents’ depressive symptoms, which in turn, influences their alcohol use intentions. The study also found the negative influence of parents’ perceived racial and ethnic discrimination on adolescents’ depressive symptoms and alcohol use intentions through the mediation of mothers’ depressive symptoms. Prevention programs can provide inner-city Latinx adolescents and their mothers with better coping skills to cope with discriminatory stress and negative emotions to reduce the negative influences of discrimination on their mental health and shift from maladaptive stress coping (e.g., using alcohol) to more positive coping strategies.