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Relations among psychosocial risk factors, coping behaviors, and depression symptoms in late adolescent West Indian girls

Sharlene Tanica Beckford, University of Massachusetts Amherst


Many researchers attest to the emergence of gender differences in depression rates during adolescence, and have discussed how gender-linked risk factors and challenges faced in early adolescence might explain increased vulnerability in adolescent girls. However, many have not included immigrant and minority populations and on this basis the relations among acculturation related stress, race related stress, coping behaviors, and depression symptoms in late adolescent and young adult West Indian females were examined in this study. A sociodemographically diverse group of 130 first and second-generation immigrant females (aged 17–26) with ethnic roots in 12 Caribbean islands were recruited from colleges and community organizations in Massachusetts and New York. Participants completed a packet containing a demographics form and measures assessing acculturation, stressful life events, frequency and stressfulness of racist events, coping styles, and depression symptoms. Independent t-test analyses comparing the two generations showed that first generation respondents were more immersed in their ethnic society and second generation respondents were more immersed in dominant society. Paired t-tests showed that respondents from both generations perceived their parents to be more immersed in ethnic society, while they rated themselves as more immersed in dominant society. Contrary to prediction, there were no generational differences in depression symptoms, perception of racist events, or the use of different coping behaviors. Hierarchical regression analyses in which the level of depressive symptoms was regressed on the generation status, risk factor score, coping behavior, risk factor x coping behavior interaction term, and generation x risk factor x coping behavior, revealed that coping behaviors moderated the relationship between psychosocial stressors and depressive symptoms for second generation respondents but not first generation respondents. These findings illustrate the importance of integrating cross-cultural considerations in developmental models of depression. In addition, the impact of cultural socialization on the respondents' expectations and beliefs, and implications for therapy and research are discussed.

Subject Area

Psychotherapy|Minority & ethnic groups|Sociology

Recommended Citation

Beckford, Sharlene Tanica, "Relations among psychosocial risk factors, coping behaviors, and depression symptoms in late adolescent West Indian girls" (2003). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3110467.