Ethnic minority adolescents are exposed to a number of stressors that place, them at increased risk of developing physical and psychological problems. However, few developmental studies have examined the inter-relationship between minority status, physical health, and psychological distress. Moreover, the existing literature on minority health has focused on comparisons between minorities and Whites. Thus, the long-term objectives of this proposal are to extend the literature on minority health in different ways: (a) by studying the normative development of two groups of Puerto Rican youth in contrasting contexts, one in which they are in their home culture and one in which they are part of the minority group, (b) by focusing on Puerto Rican youth, a largely understudied group that is currently the second largest Hispanic group in the US, (c) by identify the risk and culturally relevant protective factors for youths'distress, and (d) by considering the inter-relationship between physical health, psychological distress, and minority status. The current project uses data from the NIH-funded Puerto Rican Youth Study. This dataset has a number of advantages. First, this is the first longitudinal child and adolescent epidemiological study of the same ethnic group in two contrasting contexts, in San Juan and in the South Bronx. Second, both samples are large probability samples of the target areas (N=1,271). Third, for children ages 10-13, which are the focus of this project, both parent and child reports are available for the outcome measure, distress. This project uses multilevel models to examine whether early adolescents'trajectories of distress vary depending on the context in which they are in, and to investigate the relationship between physical health and distress. This project pays special attention to the relationship between asthma and young adolescents'distress, given that Puerto Ricans are the ethnic group with the highest prevalence of asthma in the US. Furthermore, this project uses latent growth modeling techniques in SEM to test whether site differences in distress can be accounted for by greater exposure to risk factors such as discrimination, parent-child conflict, and exposure to violence. Lastly, this project considers the protective role of culturally relevant factors such as religiosity, familism, and close monitoring, for early adolescents'psychological adjustment. The proposed project has direct implications for public health. This is the first early adolescent study to document Puerto Rican youths'trajectories of psychological distress in two contrasting contexts. Moreover, this project examines risk and resilience factors for distress, including the intriguing relationship between asthma and distress, thereby offering opportunities for prevention and intervention efforts for at risk youth.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
Predoctoral Individual National Research Service Award (F31)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-RPHB-K (29))
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Maholmes, Valerie
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New York University
Schools of Arts and Sciences
New York
United States
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Ramos-Olazagasti, María A; Shrout, Patrick E; Yoshikawa, Hirokazu et al. (2013) Contextual risk and promotive processes in Puerto Rican youths' internalizing trajectories in Puerto Rico and New York. Dev Psychopathol 25:755-71
Ramos Olazagasti, Maria A; Shrout, Patrick E; Yoshikawa, Hirokazu et al. (2012) The longitudinal relationship between parental reports of asthma and anxiety and depression symptoms among two groups of Puerto Rican youth. J Psychosom Res 73:283-8