Psychosocial Needs of African American Youth Presenting to a Pediatric Emergency Department With Assault-related Injuries


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Abstract

Objective:The purpose of this study was to identify the psychosocial needs confronting African American youth assaulted in their community.Methods:A convenience sample of 36 African American youth (mean age, 14.8 years; range, 10-18 years) who presented to a pediatric emergency department with violent interpersonal injuries was interviewed to identify the psychosocial issues they were facing. Participants also completed self-report measures of violence exposure and trauma symptoms, and their parents completed a screening measure of the youths' emotional and behavioral functioning.Results:During the interview, the youth reported 178 different concerns that were content-analyzed and placed into 10 thematic categories labeled anger/aggressive behavior (78% of respondents), general internalizing symptoms (61%), peer difficulties (53%), parent/family conflict (50%), posttraumatic stress symptoms (47%), academic concerns (42%), physical health concerns (39%), safety concerns (39%), and public service concerns (17%). Elevated rates of historical violence exposure and trauma symptoms were observed on the self-report measures, and one third of the youths' parents reported levels of emotional and behavioral problems that would warrant further clinical attention.ConclusionAfrican American assault victims are experiencing a broad range of psychosocial needs. To bolster youth recovery and reduce the risk of future injury, researchers and practitioners need to identify effective methods of assessing these needs in the emergency department so that youth victims of interpersonal violence can be referred for appropriate follow-up services.

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