Numerous studies have found that PTSD rates among high-risk adolescents far exceed the rates generally found among the general population. Trauma exposure studies have also identified teenage pregnancy and parenting as a risk factor among maltreated youth. Nonetheless a significant gap exists in our understanding of the impact of trauma exposure and PTSD on the parental functioning of adolescent mothers. The purpose of this minority research training fellowship is to train the candidate to conduct research that begins to address this gap by deepening her understanding of 1) developmental psychopathology (Posttraumatic Stress Disorder- PTSD) and the identification of risk and protective factors that effect optimal parental functioning in adolescent mothers;2) quantitative research methods designed to elucidate changes in functioning over time within and between individuals, as well as elucidate changes in functioning within and between parent-child dyads;and 3) the science of intervention and prevention research aimed at promoting optimal parental functioning among adolescent mothers with histories of trauma and PTSD. To accomplish this training plan, the candidate will work on an existing randomized-controlled study evaluating a state-wide home-visiting program for first-time adolescent mothers. A minimum of 400 adolescent mothers will be enrolled in the study. Through her research activities on the evaluation study, the candidate will learn how to use social and behavioral sciences to identify and understand 1) the prevalence of trauma and PTSD among adolescent mothers;2) the impact of trauma and PTSD on parental functioning;3) the risk and protective factors that effect optimal parental functioning;and 4) the design, implementation, and evaluation of intervention research aimed at improving parental functioning.
This proposed plan has the potential of providing information on a population we know little about. Furthermore, this line of inquiry will provide information that later can be used to create new interventions or inform existing interventions that address the needs of adolescent mothers with symptoms of PTSD.