A Study of the Links Between Trauma Exposure, Risk-Taking Behaviors, Mental Health Service Utilization and Symptoms: Comparisons Among Native American, African American, and Caucasian Adolescents Public Deposited

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  • February 28, 2019
  • Akinola, Oluseyi
    • Affiliation: Gillings School of Global Public Health, Department of Maternal and Child Health
  • Objectives: To undertake a comparison of the links between trauma exposure, risk-taking behaviors, presenting problems/symptoms and mental health service utilization patterns among Native American, African American, and White adolescents. Methodology: Quantitative data from children and families across 56 sites within the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN), collected over a period of five years, 2004-2008 and analyzed using SAS statistical software. The sample size of this study, (n= 2909) was limited to adolescents aged 12-18 who identified as Native American (126), African American (1,250) and White (1,533) at baseline. Multiple measures of psychology and traumatic stress including the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL), and risk-taking behaviors (e.g., substance use, suicidality, depression, illness, serious injury) were evaluated; analyses adjusted for age, number of trauma types, gender and clinical center. Results: Native American adolescents experienced a significantly higher mean number of trauma types (4.7) as compared to White adolescents (4.1) and African American (3.4) adolescents. Specifically, Native American adolescents were more likely to experience sexual abuse, sexual assault/rape, serious injury, bereavement/loss/ separation, and physical assault when compared to the other groups of adolescents. Native American adolescents also demonstrated disproportionately high rates of risk behaviors (e.g., substance abuse) and mental health problems (e.g., PTSD) compared with African American and White adolescents. Interestingly, among this group of trauma exposed youth, White adolescents had the highest rates of suicidality, but they were not significantly different from Native American and African American adolescents. Conclusion: Given the high rates of trauma exposure, risk behaviors, and mental health problems in this sample of ethnically diverse youth, and ethnic/cultural variations across these domains, future research should explore potential differences in trauma related symptoms and problems, as well as, other health related disparities across these three groups of youth. Moreover, the findings underscore the need to develop practices and policies that can be used to prevent, identify early, and/or treatadolescents at risk to ensure accessibility across ethnic/cultural groups and minimize trauma-related sequela and disparities. Keywords: Native American, American Indian, Alaskan Native, African American, trauma, risk behaviors, adolescents, mental health, and health disparities.
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  • In Copyright
  • Paper type: Original research
  • Speizer, Ilene
  • Master of Public Health
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
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  • 3eb4ffcf-1080-4355-bdd2-93cca563be92

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