Health disparities between African Americans (AA) and European Americans (EA) living in the USA are well documented. However, the mechanisms underlying these health disparities are not well-delineated. Although environmental, structural, and SES factors that contribute to racial/ethnic (R/E) health disparities are present in early childhood, these factors alone cannot account fully for disparities in health, suggesting that some of the between-group health disparities reflect the effects of race-related experiences. As adolescence is a period characterized by increases in racial salience, it is an ideal starting point for analyses examining the role of race-related experiences (e.g., perceived racial discrimination [PRD], R/E socialization) on health. In this project, we examine individual differences in trajectories of health and health behaviors from age 12 to 32 and the roles of PRD, parent socialization, and youth R/E identity and coping resources in moderating the shape of these trajectories. These models will describe health disparities between AAs and EAs, as well as within AA and EA groups, in different patterns of change in physical health, substance use, exercise, and other health- related behaviors and outcomes. Although some work has explored the impact of parents on their children's health and ability to cope with discrimination, little work has examined parents'influence on their children's health trajectories in the second and third decades of life. Using the Maryland Adolescent Development in Context Study - a nationally-recognized, 8-wave, longitudinal study of family, school, neighborhood, and peer influences on psychological, social, and physical development - we seek to understand the role of parents in the development of their children's health into young adulthood. Specifically, we will create trajectories of physical health and health-related behaviors from approximately age 12 to approximately age 32 (Aim 1). Next, in Aim 2, we will examine the extent to which individual differences in health trajectories are predicted by (a) R/E classification, gender, and SES;and (b) PRD and critical life events. We will then use these baseline models to examine the extent to which the relations between critical life events (e.g., PRD) and health trajectories are mediated by R/E identities and coping skills. We will next create profiles of general and R/E- specific parent socialization and examine their relations to each other and to youth R/E identity and coping resources (Aim 3). Finally, in Aim 4, we will examine the extent to which the prediction models and health trajectories revealed in Aims 1 and 2 vary across the socialization profiles generated in Aim 3.

Public Health Relevance

This project examines the role of parent socialization factors in influencing their children's trajectories of health and health-related behavior from early adolescence to early adulthood. It also examines the role of parent socialization in preventing or reducing the impact of perceived racial discrimination on such health trajectories. Delineating the effects of parent socialization on healthy youth development will help guide prevention and intervention efforts aimed at improving health and reducing health disparities.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
Research Project (R01)
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Health Disparities and Equity Promotion Study Section (HDEP)
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Haverkos, Lynne
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University of Michigan Ann Arbor
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Ann Arbor
United States
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Peck, Stephen C; Brodish, Amanda B; Malanchuk, Oksana et al. (2014) Racial/ethnic socialization and identity development in Black families: the role of parent and youth reports. Dev Psychol 50:1897-909