Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 41, Issue 1, pp 111–124 | Cite as

Family Influences on the Long Term Post-Disaster Recovery of Puerto Rican Youth

  • Erika Felix
  • Sukkyung You
  • Eric Vernberg
  • Glorisa Canino


This study focused on characteristics of the family environment that may mediate the relationship between disaster exposure and the presence of symptoms that met DSM-IV diagnostic criteria for symptom count and duration for an internalizing disorder in children and youth. We also explored how parental history of mental health problems may moderate this mediational model. Approximately 18 months after Hurricane Georges hit Puerto Rico in 1998, participants were randomly selected based on a probability household sample using 1990 US Census block groups. Caregivers and children (N = 1,886 dyads) were interviewed with the Diagnostic Interview Schedule for Children and other questionnaires in Spanish. Areas of the family environment assessed include parent-child relationship quality, parent-child involvement, parental monitoring, discipline, parents’ relationship quality and parental mental health. SEM models were estimated for parents and children, and by age group. For children (4–10 years old), parenting variables were related to internalizing psychopathology, but did not mediate the exposure-psychopathology relationship. Exposure had a direct relationship to internalizing psychopathology. For youth (11–17 years old), some parenting variables attenuated the relation between exposure and internalizing psychopathology. Family environment factors may play a mediational role in psychopathology post-disaster among youth, compared to an additive role for children. Hurricane exposure had a significant relation to family environment for families without parental history of mental health problems, but no influence for families with a parental history of mental health problems.


Natural disaster Family environment Mental health Internalizing symptoms Latino 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Gevirtz Graduate School of EducationUniversity of California, Santa BarbaraSanta BarbaraUSA
  2. 2.College of EducationHankuk University of Foreign StudiesSeoulSouth Korea
  3. 3.Clinical Child Psychology ProgramUniversity of KansasLawrenceUSA
  4. 4.Behavioral Sciences Research InstituteUniversity of Puerto RicoSan JuanPuerto Rico

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