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Home Life and Health among Native American, African American and Latino Adolescents

Fri, March 22, 7:45 to 9:15am, Baltimore Convention Center, Floor: Level 1, Exhibit Hall B

Integrative Statement

Adolescents from minority groups that face discrimination and other forms of adversity are at substantial risk for poor health for multiple reasons, including limited access to health care, non-optimal lifestyles, living in poor neighborhoods and stress. Even so, many adolescents from such groups manifest resilience as a consequence of exposure to positive family influences. However, research provides only limited detail on how aspects of home life influence basic health status for minority adolescents. This study examined two aspects of home life as potential influences on adolescent health: (1) the physical environment; and (2) family companionship and investment in the adolescent. The study examined two markers of health status for Native American, African American, and Latino adolescents: (1) number of recent health problems, and (2) perceived endurance. The sample included 53 Native American, 132 African American, and 155 Latino families with children ages 16 to 20 living in residence. Families were drawn from 4 states (Arizona, Arkansas, California, Oklahoma) and were diverse by SES and family composition. Data collectors administered the Late Adolescence version of the HOME Inventory along with components of the Child Health and Illness Profile and the American Community Survey to parents and adolescents. Preliminary analyses included bivariate correlations between the two home environment constructs of interest (physical environment, companionship and investment) and the two outcomes of interest (number of recent health problems, perceived endurance) in each of the three racial/ethnic groups. Significant correlations were observed between the Companionship and Investment domain of LA-HOME and the two markers of health for all three racial/ethnic groups. By contrast, very few significant correlations were observed for the other LA- HOME domain (Physical Environment). Thereafter, each of the health outcomes was regressed on the two home environment factors plus gender, with analyses done separately for each group, for a total of six regression analyses. Companionship and Investment was a significant predictor in 4 of the 6 models run, with near significant differences in the other two. More specifically, Companionship and Investment was a significant predictor of recent health problems among African American and Latino adolescents – almost significant for Native Americans. Companionship and Investment was also a significant predictor of perceived endurance among Native American and Latino adolescents – almost significant for African Americans. By contrast, scores on Physical Environment showed limited relations with either outcome. In conclusion, results from the study appear to offer support for the idea that physical health during late adolescents is not a simple derivative of living in conditions of poverty but appears to reflect the interplay of a more diverse set of factors connected to adolescent life. In households where there was a high level of connectedness between adolescents and other family members, Native American, African American and Latino adolescents showed more endurance and had fewer health problems. Because adolescence is a period when children tend to spend less time with other family members and are prone to engage in risky behavior, implementing programs that promote parent-adolescent communication and productive time together would seem helpful.

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