Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 40, Issue 2, pp 158–173

Contextual Stress and Health Risk Behaviors Among African American Adolescents

  • Nikeea Copeland-Linder
  • Sharon F. Lambert
  • Yi-Fu Chen
  • Nicholas S. Ialongo
Empirical Research

DOI: 10.1007/s10964-010-9520-y

Cite this article as:
Copeland-Linder, N., Lambert, S.F., Chen, Y. et al. J Youth Adolescence (2011) 40: 158. doi:10.1007/s10964-010-9520-y


This study examined the longitudinal association between contextual stress and health risk behaviors and the role of protective factors in a community epidemiologically-defined sample of urban African American adolescents (N = 500; 46.4% female). Structural equation modeling was used to create a latent variable measuring contextual stress (community violence, neighborhood disorder, and experiences with racial discrimination). Contextual stress in 8th grade was associated with aggressive behavior and substance use 2 years later for boys. For girls, contextual stress predicted later substance use, but not aggressive behavior. High academic competence and self-worth reduced the impact of contextual stress on substance use for boys. Implications for intervention and directions for future research on health risk behaviors among African American adolescents are discussed.


StressResilienceProtective factorsSubstance useAggression

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nikeea Copeland-Linder
    • 1
  • Sharon F. Lambert
    • 2
  • Yi-Fu Chen
    • 3
  • Nicholas S. Ialongo
    • 4
  1. 1.Division of General Pediatrics and Adolescent MedicineJohns Hopkins School of MedicineBaltimoreUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyGeorge Washington UniversityWashingtonUSA
  3. 3.Center for Family ResearchUniversity of GeorgiaAthensUSA
  4. 4.Department of Mental HealthJohns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public HealthBaltimoreUSA