Relationships between family structure, adolescent health status and substance use: Does ethnicity matter?

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8 Scopus citations


We examined the variations of adolescent health status and risk involvement– prevalence of mental health disabilities, chronic health conditions, substance use, and exposure to tobacco–between 6 family structures in a school-based sample of Latino, Somali, Hmong, and White students and whether ethnicity moderated these associations. Data were collected from the 2013 Minnesota Student Survey, comprising a sample of 29,345 from 8th, 9th, and 11th grades. Logistic regression investigated relationships between family structure and health variables. Adolescents in nuclear families reported better health outcomes in most models; odds of mental disabilities were 1.64 for single parent and 2.45 for other family structures. Significant effect modification was noted for all health outcomes; extended families were consistently protective for Hmong youth and offered some protection for Latino and Somali youth. Policies and programs that support parents and guardians are essential, and may be especially beneficial for ethnic minority youth in single-parent, grandparent-only, and other family structures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)44-57
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Community Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was conducted while the first author was funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under National Research Service Award in Primary Medical Care grant number T32HP22239 (PI: Borowsky), Bureau of Health Workforce.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.


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