College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences Theses and Dissertations

Graduation Date

12-2009

Document Type

Dissertation

College/Department Conferring Degree

Psychology

Keywords

nondisclosure, community violence, urban African American adolescents, mediation, moderated mediation

Abstract

African American youth residing in high risk neighborhoods, characterized by violence, crime, and poverty have been shown to be at increased risk for exposure to violence and psychological symptoms, and there has been little investigation of mediating processes that might explain these association. Due to the poor current state of mental health of low income ethnic minority youth, it is important to investigate the role of nondisclosure as a risk factor affecting psychological outcomes in urban African American adolescents from high risk neighborhoods. Nondisclosure among urban African American adolescents from neighborhoods affected by violence is associated with adverse psychological outcomes and can serve as a barrier to adult intervention and protection. Strong relationships with parents and/or extended family and community member may promote disclosure and better psychological adjustment, and buffer the adverse effects of violence experience by adolescents. This study tested conceptual models in which adolescents' nondisclosure to adults mediates the relation between community exposure to violence (CETV) and internalizing and externalizing symptoms. In addition, moderated mediation analysis were conducted in order to test the hypotheses that parent-child attachment and social support from extended kin and non-kin adults would attenuate the hypothesized relations among variables proposed in the mediation models. Structural equation modeling was used to conduct mediation and moderated mediation analysis. SEM analysis revealed that nondisclosure fully mediated the relation between CETV and internalizing symptoms, and partially mediated the relation between CETV and externalizing symptoms. However, calculation of decomposition of total effects, revealed that nondisclosure did not fully account for the relation between CETV and internalizing symptoms. Results of moderated mediation path analysis suggested that parent-child attachment and social support did not moderate the mediating role of nondisclosure between CETV and internalizing and externalizing symptoms. This research provides empirical support regarding the role of nondisclosure in urban African American adolescents. Particularly, this study revealed the disadvantages of adolescents' nondisclosure to adults, and provided insight about development and relationship factors influencing adolescent's nondisclosure to adults. The findings from this study have implications for intervention and prevention programs aimed to improve adolescent and adult communications and to minimize the effects of CETV.

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