Date of Award

9-23-2009

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Gabriel Kuperminc, Ph.D. - Chair

Second Advisor

Lisa Armistead, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Greg Jurkovic, Ph.D.

Fourth Advisor

Larry Riso, Ph.D.

Abstract

This study examines the relations between depressive symptom expression and cultural and family contexts among adolescent females from different ethnic groups. Specifically, ethnic identity, parenting style, family stress and the quality of parent-adolescent relationships were examined as potential protective factors for depressive symptom expression among a diverse group of female adolescents. This study addressed the following research questions: 1) Are there ethnic group differences in depressive symptom expression across Latina, African American and Asian adolescent females? 2) Are there ethnic group differences in the association of family processes with depressive symptom expression across these three ethnic groups? 3) Regardless of ethnic group membership, does ethnic identity moderate the association of family processes with depressive symptoms? The sample consisted of 93 female high school students. Overall, 30% of participants reported depressive symptoms in the moderate to severe range. The results of this study indicate that there are few statistically significant differences in depressive symptom expression across Latina, African American and Asian participants; however, Latina participants consistently reported the highest rates of depressive symptoms. Family stress and authoritative parenting style were significant predictors of depressive symptom expression, such that participants of all ethnicities who reported high levels of depressive symptoms also reported high levels of family stress and low levels of authoritative parenting. No ethnic group differences were found for authoritative parenting, family stress or ethnic identity indicating that these processes were comparable across ethnic groups. These results indicate that family process variables are important predictors of depressive symptoms in adolescent females, which lead to recommendations that adolescent treatment of depressive disorders should include family therapy. In addition, due to the 30% prevalence rate of depression in this study, it is recommended that mental health professionals and school systems collaborate in order to offer outreach programs through local schools. INDEX WORDS: Adolescents, Depression, Ethnic minorities, Authoritative parenting, Family stress, Ethnic identity

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Psychology Commons

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