Social disadvantage and adolescent stress.

Heller School for Social Policy and Management, Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts 02453-9110, USA.
Journal of Adolescent Health (Impact Factor: 2.75). 01/2006; 37(6):484-92. DOI: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2004.11.126
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Low socioeconomic status (SES) and minority race/ethnicity are both associated with chronic stress and co-vary in American society. As such, these factors are often used synonymously, without clear theoretical conceptualization of their roles in the development of stress-related health disparities. This study theorized that race/ethnicity and SES reflect social disadvantage, which is the underlying factor in the development of stress-related illness, and examined how social disadvantage, defined in terms of both race/ethnicity and SES, influences adolescents' stress.
This is a cross-sectional school-based study of 1209 non-Hispanic black and white 7th-12th graders from a single Midwestern metropolitan public school district. Each student completed a questionnaire and a parent provided SES information. Race/ethnicity was obtained from school records. Linear regression analyses determined the influence of race/ethnicity and SES to stress. Race/ethnicity and presence or absence of at least one parent who graduated from college were used to define four subgroups for within-group analyses.
Stress was higher among black students, those from lower SES families, and those with lower perceived SES. In subgroup analyses, neither race nor SES maintained their independent associations with stress among socially disadvantaged groups. Black race was not associated with stress among those without a college-educated parent, and parent education did not influence stress among black students. In contrast, among more socially advantaged groups, both SES and race explained variation in adolescents' stress.
Social disadvantage is associated with increased stress, regardless of whether disadvantage is defined in terms of race or SES. This suggests that race and SES measure adversity in the social environment, and therefore, serve as risk markers, rather than risk factors. Future research should focus on the experience of adversity, which is reflected by these social characteristics, and the processes by which it operates.

1 Bookmark
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Childhood and adolescence arerelevant periods for the brain maturation process. Experiences in early life have an important influenceon adults patterns of behavior. OBJECTIVE: To analyze what have been published in the last 20 years about neuropsychological and neuroimaging, associated with occurrence of various forms of emotional stress inchildhood andadolescence. METHODS: Literature review of the Medline/PubMed databasewith the terms related to neuropsychology, neuroimaging, abandonment experience, domestic violence, physical and sexualabuse and neglect. RESULTS: 607 articles were found but only 19 fit with the proposed subject and were selected. Despite the differences between the studies, there is evidence that groups with experience of early emotional stressshow losses in neurocognitive functions such as attention, intelligence, language, executive functions, and decision-making, as well as changes in hippocampus, corpus callosum prefrontal cortex, and anterior cingulate cortex. The occurrence of psychiatric disorders and behavioral disorders were also relevant in these individuals. DISCUSSION: Considering many negative consequences that early stress can cause in neuropsychological and mental development, there is a need for more research on the topic in order to develop specific strategies for diagnosis and treatment, besides the implementation of public policies for violence prevention in childhood and adolescence, especially in developing countries.
    Revista de Psiquiatria Clínica 12/2009; 37(6):271-279. · 0.89 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: This paper describes the intersection of converging lines of research on the social structural, psychosocial, and physiological factors involved in the production of stress and implications for the field of mental health. Of particular interest are the stress sensitization consequences stemming from exposure to adversity over the life course. Contemporary stress sensitization theory provides important clinical utility in articulating mechanisms through which these multiple levels exert influence on mental health. Stress sensitization models (a) extend understanding of neurobiological and functional contexts within which extreme stressors operate and (b) make clear how these can influence psychologically traumatic outcomes. The value of interventions that are sensitive to current contexts as well as life course profiles of cumulative stress are illustrated through recent treatment innovations.
    American Journal of Psychiatric Rehabilitation 01/2013; 16(2).
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Studies of adults and adolescents suggest subjective socio-economic status (SES) is associated with health/well-being even after adjustment for objective SES. In adolescence, objective SES may have weaker relationships with health/well-being than at other life stages; school-based social status may be of greater relevance. We investigated the associations which objective SES (residential deprivation and family affluence), subjective SES and three school-based subjective social status dimensions ("SSS-peer", "SSS-scholastic" and "SSS-sports") had with physical symptoms, psychological distress and anger among 2503 Scottish 13-15 year-olds. Associations between objective SES and health/well-being were weak and inconsistent. Lower subjective SES was associated with increased physical symptoms and psychological distress, lower SSS-peer with increased psychological distress but reduced anger, lower SSS-scholastic with increased physical symptoms, psychological distress and anger, and lower SSS-sports with increased physical symptoms and psychological distress. Associations did not differ by gender. Objective and subjective SES had weaker associations with health/well-being than did school-based SSS dimensions. These findings underline the importance of school-based SSS in adolescence, and the need for future studies to include a range of school-based SSS dimensions and several health/well-being measures. They also highlight the need for a focus on school-based social status among those working to promote adolescent health/well-being.
    Social Science [?] Medicine 09/2014; 121C:39-47. · 2.56 Impact Factor


Available from
Jun 5, 2014