Association of Types of Life Events with Depressive Symptoms among Puerto Rican Youth

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Jaschek G, Carter-Pokras OD, He X, Lee S, Canino G (2016) Association of Types of Life Events with Depressive Symptoms among Puerto Rican Youth. PLoS ONE 11(10): e0164852. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0164852


The main objective of this study was to examine the association between four types of adverse life events (family environment, separation, social adversity, and death) and the development of depressive symptoms among Puerto Rican youth. This was a secondary analysis using three waves (2000-2004) of interview data from the Boricua Youth Study of 10-13 year old Puerto Rican youth residing in New York and Puerto Rico with no depressive symptoms at baseline (n = 977). Depressive symptoms increased with an increase in social adversity, separation, death, and death events. Youth support from parents was a significant protective factor for all adverse events and parent coping was a protective factor in social adversity events. Relying on standard diagnostic tools is ideal to identify youth meeting the criteria for a diagnosis of depression but not useful to detect youth who present with subclinical levels of depression. Youth with sub-clinical levels of depression will not get treated and are at increased risk of developing depression later in life. Adverse life events are potentially relevant to use in conjunction with other screening tools to identify Puerto Rican youth who have subclinical depression and are at risk of developing depression in later adolescence.


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