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Risk and protective factors for psychopathology in adolescence

Cunningham, Elysia Jeanette Rose 2010 , 'Risk and protective factors for psychopathology in adolescence', PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Mental health research suggests incarcerated adolescents display similar rates of
behavioural and emotional disorders as youth in psychiatric care. Several factors appear
to be related to psychological problems during adolescence, including: intellectual
disability; unhealthy family environments; childhood abuse (sexual, physical and
emotional abuse, and neglect); substance abuse; and poverty. In addition factors such as
parental mental illness, lack of perceived support, divorce, and single-parent families
have been linked to mental illness in adolescence. However, recent research indicates
that a number of factors, such as personality traits, social support, and emotional
intelligence, may act as mediators or protective factors against developing mental
illness in adolescence. The current study examined the rate of different forms of
psychological disturbance in a group of adolescents involved in the youth justice system
compared to a general high school sample (N = 145). Further, the study attempted to
identify the combination of emotional, intellectual, and psychosocial risk and protective
factors that best predict mental health status within these groups of adolescents. The rate
of psychological disturbances between the groups was examined using MANOVA and
MANCOVA, with the risk and protective factors for mental illness being examined with
logistic regression techniques. The MANCOVA results identified significant differences
between the youth justice and high school groups across five mental illness subscales:
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Conduct Disorder, Separation Anxiety,
Substance Abuse, and Adjustment Disorder. The youth justice group was found to
display significantly higher scores on these five subscales. Binary logistic regression
analyses identified a pattern of intellectual, emotional and psychosocial factors that
contribute to the prediction of clinically significant mental health problems for both groups of adolescents. Some of the key factors identified include neuroticism, criminal
conviction history, psychoticism, stress management skills, higher general mood, and
intrapersonal skills. While the results for the differences between the groups on the
psychopathology subscales are consistent with previous research, the number of
predictive factors that contributed to risk for mental illness were fewer than previously
identified. The results of the present study will enable the development of screening
tools to identify those adolescents in youth detention that are at highest risk of emerging
psychological disorders. Use of a screening tool has the potential to significantly
improve mental health outcomes due to such an instrument being able to indicate a need
for early intervention.

Item Type: Thesis - PhD
Authors/Creators:Cunningham, Elysia Jeanette Rose
Keywords: Teenagers, Youth, Mental illness, Psychiatry
Copyright Holders: The Author
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2010 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright
owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We
would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s).

Additional Information:

Thesis (PhD)--University of Tasmania, 2010. Includes bibliographical references

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