Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 48, Issue 11, pp 2271–2291 | Cite as

Patterns of Social Connectedness and Psychosocial Wellbeing among African American and Caribbean Black Adolescents

  • Theda RoseEmail author
  • Ashley McDonald
  • Tara Von Mach
  • Dawn P. Witherspoon
  • Sharon Lambert
Empirical Research


Adolescents are connected to multiple and interrelated settings (e.g., family, school), which interact to influence their development. Using the National Survey of American Life-Adolescent (NSAL-A), a nationally representative cross-sectional survey, this study examined patterns of social connection and Black adolescents’ wellbeing and whether social connection-wellbeing links differed by ethnicity and gender. The sample included 1170 Black adolescents ages 13–17 (69% African American, 31% Caribbean Black, 52% female, mean age 15). Latent profile analysis was used to identify profiles of adolescent connections across family, peer, school, religion, and neighborhood settings. Four profiles of social connection emerged: unconnected, minimal connection, high family connection, and well-connected. The profiles differed in life satisfaction, self-esteem, mastery, coping, perceived stress, and depressive symptoms. The well-connected profile, characterized by connection to all five settings, had significantly higher life satisfaction, self-esteem, mastery, and coping, and lower perceived stress compared to the unconnected and minimal connection profiles and lower depressive symptoms than the unconnected profile. The well-connected profile also had better self-esteem and coping compared to the high family connection profile. The youth in the unconnected profile had significantly lower self-esteem and mastery and significantly higher depressive symptoms than the minimally connected youth. Moderation analyses showed no differences by ethnicity. However, differences by gender were observed for the association between connectedness and life satisfaction. The results support the critical need to examine connectedness across multiple settings and within group heterogeneity among Black youth to develop strategies to promote their psychosocial wellbeing.


Social connectedness Psychosocial wellbeing Black adolescents Caribbean Black adolescents 


Authors’ Contributions

T.R. conceived of the study, drafted the background and methods sections of the manuscript, participated in data interpretation, formatted the manuscript including references, provided discussion revisions, and edited throughout; A.M. conducted the data analysis and drafted/edited results and tables; T.V.M. conducted literature reviews, worked on the background section of the manuscript, drafted the reference section, and edited throughout. D.W. provided critical additions and edits to the background section as well as feedback on other parts of the manuscript; S.L. helped to conceptualize the study and analysis, wrote the discussion section, and provided critical feedback and final edits on the whole manuscript. All authors reviewed versions of the manuscript.


The NSAL is supported by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH; U01-MH57716) with supplemental support from the OBSSR Office of Behavioral and Social Science Research and the National Institute on Drug Abuse at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the University of Michigan to Dr. James S. Jackson.

Data Sharing and Declaration

The NSAL-A is a publicly available dataset that can be accessed through the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research at the university of Michigan.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

The NSAL is an IRB approved nationally representative household survey thus all procedures performed were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

This study is a secondary analysis of the 2001–2003 National Survey of American Life (NSAL) adolescent sample, originally collected by researchers at the Program for Research on Black Americans (PRBA) through the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research. Informed consent and assent were obtained from the adolescent's legal guardian and adolescent prior to the study participation.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Social WorkUniversity of MarylandBaltimoreUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyThe Pennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyGeorge Washington UniversityWashingtonUSA

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