Research & Action Report, Fall/Winter 2013

Depression Prevention and Adolescents

Tracy Gladstone, Ph.D. co-authored “Understanding Adolescent Response to a Technology-Based Depression Prevention Program” (Gladstone, T., Marko-Holguin, M., Henry, J., Fogel, J., Diehl, A., and Van Voorhees, B.) which has been accepted to the Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, for a forthcoming special issue on technology-based interventions. Guided by the Behavioral Vaccine Theory of prevention, this study uses a no-control group design to examine intervention variables that predict favorable changes in depressive symptoms at the six-to-eight week follow-up in at-risk adolescents who participated in a primary care, Internet-based prevention program. The findings support the importance of cognitive factors in preventing adolescent depression and suggest that modifiable aspects of technology-based intervention experience and relationships should be considered in optimizing intervention design.

A chapter Gladstone co-authored with William Beardslee, M.D. entitled “Mental Illness Prevention and Promotion” will be included in a new volume, The Challenges of Mental Health Caregiving. She also co-authored "Prevention of Depression in At-Risk Adolescents Longer-term Effects," (Beardslee, W., Brent, D., Weersing, V., Clarke, G., Porta, G., Hollon, S., Gladstone, T., Gallop, R., Lynch, F., Iyengar, S., DeBar, L., and Garber, J.) included in the September 2013 issue of JAMA Psychiatry. The article examined adolescent offspring of depressed parents, who are at high risk for experiencing depressive disorders themselves, to determine whether the positive effects of a group cognitive-behavioral prevention (CBP) program extended to longer-term follow-up. Among the findings, the researchers determined that over the 33-month follow-up period, youths in the CBP condition had significantly fewer onsets of depressive episodes compared with those in usual care (UC). Parental depression at baseline significantly moderated the intervention effect. When parents were not depressed at intake, CBP was superior to UC, however when parents were actively depressed at baseline, average onset rates between CBP and UC were not significantly different.

 

Mother’s Religiosity and Its Effect on Adolescents’ Sexual Behavior

Research undertaken by scholars at the Wellesley Centers for Women (WCW) that examines adolescents’ sexual behavior in relation to discord with their mother’s religiosity, is featured in the October 2013 Journal of Primary Prevention. This study investigates the relationship between adolescent/mother religious discordance and emerging adult sexual risk-taking six to seven years later. The research team of Jennifer Grossman, Ph.D., Allison Tracy, Ph.D., and Anne Noonan, Ph.D., utilized Social Control Theory to examine the level and direction of concordance using data from the Add Health Study, focusing on constructs of religious importance, frequency of prayer, and attendance at religious services. The team found that higher levels of adolescent/ mother discordance in religious importance were related to increased emerging adult sexual risk-taking compared to those with similar levels of adolescent/mother religiosity—this occurred only when mothers reported higher levels of religious importance than their children. In contrast, adolescents reporting higher frequency of prayer than their mothers reported lower levels of sexual risk-taking than those with similar frequency of adolescent/mother prayer. The findings suggest that the protective effects of family religious socialization can be interrupted. However, the influence of religious difference on sexual risk-behavior does not operate the same and depends on the direction and level of religious difference.

 

Employment and Access to Affordable Child Care

An article on child care subsidies authored by Nancy Marshall, Ed.D., Wendy Wagner Robeson, Ed.D, Allison Tracy, Ph.D., Alice Frye, Ph.D., and Joanne Roberts, Ph.D., "Subsidized child care, maternal employment and access to quality, affordable child care," is included in Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 28. To examine whether state child care subsidy policies can combine goals of increasing maternal employment and increasing access to quality child care for children in low-income families, the research team studied one state’s comprehensive policy, through a cross-sectional survey of 665 randomly selected families using centers, Head Start programs, family child care homes, public school preschools, or informal care, including a sample of families on the waitlist for child care subsidies. The researchers found that, in Massachusetts, families receiving child care subsidies report greater access to child care, more affordable child care, and higher quality child care, than do similar families not receiving subsidies. Lower-income families not receiving subsidies can sometimes access affordable, quality child care through Head Start and public preschools, but, when they must pay for care, they pay a significantly greater proportion of their income than do families receiving subsidies. The team also found that families on the subsidy waitlist are at a particular disadvantage as they have the greatest difficulty paying for care, the least access, and the poorest quality child care. While the child care subsidy policies benefited those families receiving subsidies, families outside the system still struggled to find affordable child care.

 

Tracking Cognitive Skills in Education and STEM-Immigration Employment Trends

Sari Pekkala Kerr, Ph.D. co-authored “School Tracking and Development of Cognitive Skills” with Tuomas Pekkarinen, Ph.D. and Roope Uusitalo, Ph.D., published in Journal of Labor Economics, Vol. 31 (No. 3), 2013. The researchers evaluated the effects of the Finnish school system on mathematical, verbal, and logical reasoning skills using data from the country’s comprehensive school reform that abolished the two-track school system. They used a differences-in-differences approach that exploits the gradual implementation across the country; cognitive skills were measured using test scores from the Finnish Army Basic Skills Test. The researchers found that the reform had small positive effects on verbal test scores, but no effect on the mean performance in the arithmetic or logical reasoning tests. However, the reform significantly improved the scores of the students whose parents had less than high-school education.

Kerr also co-authored with William Kerr, Ph.D., “Immigration and Employer Transitions for STEM Workers” published in the American Economic Review, Papers and Proceedings, Vol. 103, 2013. Immigrants play a significant role in many aspects of the U.S. economy, but their impact in occupations related to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) is especially pronounced. Immigrants account for about a quarter of all STEM workers with college degrees or higher in the 2000 census; about half of those have doctorates. In this paper, the researchers provide a short glimpse into new data that are a useful platform for studying immigration within U.S. firms. The Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics (LEHD) database provides employer-employee records for U.S. private sector firms, which the researchers match to the Current Population Survey, among other analysis. The longitudinal nature of the person-level data affords new insights into career trajectories that to date have only been feasible in special settings. The LEHD is also a powerful platform for studying firm-level consequences of immigration.

 

Deconstructing Privilege

Peggy Mcintosh, Ph.D. wrote the foreword to the book, Deconstructing Privilege: Teaching and Learning as Allies in the Classroom, edited by Kim Case, Ph.D. of the University of Houston-Clear Lake, published by Routledge (2013). The title of McIntosh’s foreword is “Teaching About Privilege: Transforming Learned Ignorance into Usable Knowledge.” This edited collection explores best practices for effective teaching and learning about various forms of systemic group privilege such as that based on race, gender, sexuality, religion, and class.

 

 Out-of-School-Time Competencies

The Wallace Foundation has made available Strong Directors/Skilled Staff: Guide to Using the Core Competencies, a handbook which the National Institute on Out-of-School Time developed for the New York City Department of Youth and Community Development. The handbook outlines key skills—core competencies—needed by afterschool program directors and those they supervise. It also offers guidance and tools on how to develop the skills, including questionnaires that managers and youth workers can use to determine their strengths and weaknesses. Learn more online: www.wallacefoundation.org.

 

Mental Health Care and Immigrants

Clinical Issues and Challenges in Treating Undocumented Immigrants,” by Lisa Fortuna, M.D., M.P.H., and Michelle Porche, Ed.D., is included in the August 2013 issue of Psychiatric Times. The article describes risk factors for undocumented immigrants, specific barriers to mental health services use, and evidence-based approaches to care. The article is available through the publisher’s website: www.psychiatrictimes.com.

 

Obscuring Gender Based Violence in Policy

Obscuring Gender Based Violence: Marriage Promotion and Teen Dating Violence Research,” authored by Carrie Baker, J.D., Ph.D. and Nan Stein, Ed.D., has been accepted to the Journal of Women, Politics & Policy for future publication. This article argues that United States public policies have prioritized the promotion of marriage and healthy relationships over research and education about gendered violence in teen dating relationships. Evidence shows that the prevalence of intimate partner and teen dating violence disproportionately impacts women and girls. The lack of a gender-based analysis reflects a shift from a feminist framing of violence, that focuses on the safety and wellbeing of women and girls based on an analysis of gender, power, and structural inequalities, toward a conservative focus on individualistic solutions to gendered social problems like poverty and violence.

 

 

 

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