Risks, Resources, and Depressive Symptomatology Among Marshallese Adolescents

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This study examined risks and resources to assess depressive symptom variation among a sample of Marshallese adolescents attending a Northwest Arkansas high school. A self-administered questionnaire was completed by 10th–12th-grade students (N = 1,493). With a general response rate in excess of 78%, the subsample (n = 208) represented 75% of all Marshallese students attending the high school and approximately 9% of the total K–12 Marshallese population. Average depressive symptom (CES-D) scores for Marshallese adolescents were 17.3; high enough to exceed the clinical caseness cut-off (16+) typically used as an evaluative criteria. Regression results found females and students who self-identified in lower social class categories reported more depressive symptoms than males and self-identified higher-class students. Marshallese students with poorer grades, higher exposure to school risks, and higher exposure to gangs reported more depressive symptoms; social (friends) and psychological (self-esteem) resources were both significant and negative in their association with depressive symptoms. These results represented the first comprehensive examination of depressive symptomatology among Marshallese adolescents living anywhere in the continental United States. Findings were discussed in the context of significance for clinical interventions at school and community levels.

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