Original Paper

Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 35, Issue 2, pp 265-274

First online:

Academic Pathways between Attention Problems and Depressive Symptoms Among Urban African American Children

  • Keith C. HermanAffiliated withSchool of MedicineJohns Hopkins University, Johns Hopkins UniversityDivision of Child And Adolescent Psychiatry, Johns Hopkins University Email author 
  • , Sharon F. LambertAffiliated withGeorge Washington University
  • , Nicholas S. IalongoAffiliated withSchool of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University
  • , Rick OstranderAffiliated withSchool of MedicineJohns Hopkins University, Johns Hopkins University

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The present study investigated the pathways between attention problems and depressive symptoms, particularly the role of academic incompetence, among a community sample of urban African American children. Results supported the hypothesized path models from inattention to depressive symptoms for girls and boys. Academic performance in the spring of first grade mediated the relationship between inattention in fall of first grade and depressive symptoms in spring of 3rd grade. The effects held when controlling for conduct problems and academic competence in first grade suggesting the path was specific to attention problems rather than a more general externalizing or school readiness pathway. Implications for designing interventions and prevention strategies for children with attention problems and depressive symptoms are discussed.


Attention problems Depression Academic competence Gender differences