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Adolescent mental health and academic functioning: Empirical support for contrasting models of risk and vulnerability

APA Citation:

Lucier-Greer, M., O’Neal, C. W., Arnold, A. L., Mancini, J. A., & Wickrama, K. K. A. S. (2014). Adolescent mental health and academic functioning: Empirical support for contrasting models of risk and vulnerability. Military Medicine, 179(11), 1279 – 1287. https://doi-org.spot.lib.auburn.edu/10.7205/MILMED-D-14-00090

Abstract Created by REACH:

The purpose of the current study was to test three models of adolescent risk (additive model, comparative model, and cumulative model) that are purported to undermine the wellbeing (e.g., depressive symptoms) of adolescents in military families. The additive model suggests that a variety of risk factors, including general (e.g., social isolation) and military-specific (e.g., frequent school changes) risk factors, each independently affect adolescent wellbeing. The comparative model contends these general risk factors and military-specific risk factors differentially impact adolescent wellbeing. The cumulative model contends that all of these risk factors can pileup and, as a whole, may undermine adolescent wellbeing. Drawing from a sample of 1,036 adolescents, the researchers hypothesized that, across the three models of risk, the link between risk factors and adolescent wellbeing may be explained by persistence (steadfastness in the face of adversity). Findings from each model provided a distinct perspective on how greater risk may lower adolescents’ persistence and, subsequently, their wellbeing.

Focus:

Children
Youth

Branch of Service:

Army

Military Affiliation:

Active Duty

Subject Affiliation:

Child of a service member or veteran

Population:

Childhood (birth - 12 yrs)
School age (6 - 12 yrs)
Adolescence (13 - 17 yrs)

Methodology:

Cross-Sectional Study
Quantitative Study
Primary Data Analysis

Authors:

Lucier-Greer, Mallory, O'Neal, Catherine W., Arnold, A. Laura, Mancini, Jay A., Wickrama, Kandauda K. A. S.

Abstract:

Adolescents in military families contend with normative stressors that are universal and exist across social contexts (minority status, family disruptions, and social isolation) as well as stressors reflective of their military life context (e.g., parental deployment, school transitions, and living outside the United States). This study utilizes a social ecological perspective and a stress process lens to examine the relationship between multiple risk factors and relevant indicators of youth well-being, namely depressive symptoms and academic performance, as well as the mediating role of self-efficacy (N = 1,036). Three risk models were tested: an additive effects model (each risk factor uniquely influences outcomes), a full cumulative effects model (the collection of risk factors influences outcomes), a comparative model (a cumulative effects model exploring the differential effects of normative and military-related risks). This design allowed for the simultaneous examination of multiple risk factors and a comparison of alternative perspectives on measuring risk. Each model was predictive of depressive symptoms and academic performance through persistence; however, each model provides unique findings about the relationship between risk factors and youth outcomes. Discussion is provided pertinent to service providers and researchers on how risk is conceptualized and suggestions for identifying at-risk youth.

Publisher/Sponsoring Organization:

Association of Military Surgeon

Publication Type:

Article
REACH Publication
Featured Research

Author Affiliation:

Department of Family and Child Sciences, Florida State University, MLG
Department of Human Development and Family Science, The University
of Georgia, CWO
Department of Human Development and Family Science, The University
of Georgia, ALA
Department of Human Development and Family Science, The University
of Georgia, JAM
Department of Human Development and Family Science, The University
of Georgia, KKASW

Keywords:

military families, stress, stressors, at-risk youth

View Research Summary:

REACH Publication Type:

Research Summary

Sponsors:

U.S. Department of Agriculture (NIFA award No. 2009-48680-06069, Jay A. Mancini, Principal Investigator)

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