Girls with foster care involvement may be particularly vulnerable to the negative effects of maltreatment experiences, as indicated by poorer functioning with peers when compared to biologically-reared children and boys in foster care (Leve et al., 2007). These girls have often experienced high rates of sexual abuse and maltreatment, have had numerous caregiver transitions, and show risky decision-making behavior as evidenced by their engagement in drug use, their association with older antisocial males, their pregnancy rates, and their engagement in health-risking sexual behaviors, the costs of which are great (Kerr et al., 2008;Leve &Chamberlain, 2005a;2005b;Pawlby et al., 1997;Underwood, 1998). It is particularly important to understand decision making in this population due to their increased risk for early pregnancy and the transmission of risk to a second generation. However, little is known about the decision-making processes associated with risky decision making in adolescent girls with foster care involvement. This proposal aims to bridge this gap in knowledge. The current proposal aims to conduct hypothesis-driven exploratory research to further the understanding of how decision making might be associated with health-risking sexual behaviors and drug use for these girls. Capitalizing on a unique opportunity to study an existing sample of girls with foster care involvement, the sample consists of 100 girls who participated in a randomized intervention trial prior to entering middle school that was aimed at preventing the onset of drug use, criminality, and health-risking sexual behaviors (R01 MH054257;December 1, 2003- November 30, 2008). In the proposed study, we intend to address four research questions. First, we will examine several key aspects of decision-making processes in girls with foster care involvement. Specifically, we predict that the sample will show high levels of risky decision making for both risks to achieve gains and ones to avoid losses, coupled with a diminished sensitivity to changes in risk/reward contingencies that would signal avoiding (or approaching) a risky option (i.e., adaptive decision making). Second, we will investigate the prediction of risky decision making during adolescence from the girls'early experiences. Third, we will examine associations between risky decision making and health-risking sexual behaviors, drug use, and delinquency. Finally, we will conduct a post-hoc examination of the effects of the previously conducted structured preventive intervention on competent decision-making skills. The proposed work will provide necessary groundwork for subsequent projects aimed at understanding the neural substrates of adaptive decision making in adolescent populations with foster care experiences, and projects aimed at prospectively examining the malleability of decision-making processes in such populations to ultimately reduce risk for drug use and health-risking sexual behavior.

Public Health Relevance

The current project has direct relevance to identifying specific vulnerability factors that may be associated with risky decision making. Further, the proposed project has the potential to provide a deeper conceptualization of the mechanisms that drive real-life health-risking behaviors. This work has the potential to yield important insights that may help researchers develop interventions aimed at promoting better decision making in children in high-risk populations, ultimately reducing drug use and associated problems.

Agency
National Institute of Health (NIH)
Institute
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
Type
Exploratory/Developmental Grants (R21)
Project #
5R21DA027091-02
Application #
8053449
Study Section
Psychosocial Development, Risk and Prevention Study Section (PDRP)
Program Officer
Lloyd, Jacqueline
Project Start
2010-04-01
Project End
2013-03-31
Budget Start
2011-04-01
Budget End
2013-03-31
Support Year
2
Fiscal Year
2011
Total Cost
$191,188
Indirect Cost
Name
Decision Research
Department
Type
DUNS #
151097243
City
Eugene
State
OR
Country
United States
Zip Code
97401
Clark, Miriam; Buchanan, Rohanna; Kovensky, Rachel et al. (2018) Partner influences on young women's risky drug and sexual behavior. Reprod Health 15:156
Clark, Miriam; Buchanan, Rohanna; Leve, Leslie D (2018) Young Women's Perspectives of Their Adolescent Treatment Programs: A Qualitative Study. Int J Environ Res Public Health 15:
Weller, Joshua A; Leve, Leslie D; Kim, Hyoun K et al. (2015) Plasticity of risky decision making among maltreated adolescents: Evidence from a randomized controlled trial. Dev Psychopathol 27:535-51
Mendle, Jane; Leve, Leslie D; Van Ryzin, Mark et al. (2014) Linking Childhood Maltreatment with Girls' Internalizing Symptoms: Early Puberty as a Tipping Point. J Res Adolesc 24:689-702
Harold, Gordon T; Leve, Leslie D; Kim, Hyoun K et al. (2014) Maternal caregiving and girls' depressive symptom and antisocial behavior trajectories: an examination among high-risk youth. Dev Psychopathol 26:1461-75
Kim, Hyoun K; Pears, Katherine C; Leve, Leslie D et al. (2013) Intervention Effects on Health-Risking Sexual Behavior Among Girls in Foster Care: The Role of Placement Disruption and Tobacco and Marijuana Use. J Child Adolesc Subst Abuse 22:370-387
Pears, Katherine C; Kim, Hyoun K; Leve, Leslie D (2012) Girls in Foster Care: Risk and Promotive Factors for School Adjustment Across the Transition to Middle School. Child Youth Serv Rev 34:234-243
Kim, Hyoun K; Leve, Leslie D (2011) Substance use and delinquency among middle school girls in foster care: a three-year follow-up of a randomized controlled trial. J Consult Clin Psychol 79:740-50
Smith, Dana K; Leve, Leslie D; Chamberlain, Patricia (2011) Preventing internalizing and externalizing problems in girls in foster care as they enter middle school: impact of an intervention. Prev Sci 12:269-77
Natsuaki, Misaki N; Leve, Leslie D; Mendle, Jane (2011) Going through the rites of passage: timing and transition of menarche, childhood sexual abuse, and anxiety symptoms in girls. J Youth Adolesc 40:1357-70