Zhu, Lin (2018). A multi-level analysis on school connectedness, family support, and adolescent depression: Evidence from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, 1995–1996. Social Sciences.
vol. 7 (5) pp. 1-16
Objective The purpose of this study is to gain insight into the effect of family support, school connectedness, and school environments on depressive symptoms among adolescents across racial/ethnic groups on both the student-level and school-level. Method This study uses a sample of 4228 students (2122 girls and 2016 boys) from the public use data of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. Students were measured at two time points (one year apart) on school connectedness, family support, socio-demographic factors, and the Center for Epidemiological Studies’ Depression Scale. Hierarchical Linear Modeling was used to examine potential predictors on adolescent depressive symptoms. This is, to the best of the author’s knowledge, the first study to examine the interplay of school connectedness, school racial composition, and adolescent depression. Results School connectedness partially mediates the effects of family support on depressive symptoms, but both remain strong predictors of depressive symptoms. African American adolescents are the only racial/ethnic group that has constantly higher CES-D scores than the non-Hispanic white adolescents. School-level connectedness is positively related to students’ depressive symptoms. The racial composition of a school has different effects on students’ depressive symptoms on student’s race. Conclusions Low perceived family support, low school connectedness, being female, and being African American are consistently associated with greater depressive symptoms one year later. The overall level of school connectedness of a school is found to be related with greater individual student’s depressive symptoms, while the effects of school proportion of minority students on students’ depressive symptoms differ significantly across the race/ethnicity of students. Future study is needed to explore the association between racial/ethnic segregation and adolescent depression while considering students’ racial/ethnic status.
school connectedness family support racial disparity adolescent depression