Predictors of Emotional Well-Being in At-Risk Adolescent Girls: Developing Preventive Intervention Strategies

  • Mary I. ArmstrongEmail author
  • Roger A. Boothroyd


This article examines the degree to which various demographic characteristics, personality traits, and environmental factors are associated with overall emotional well-being of 125 adolescent girls whose mothers were involved in welfare reform. Daughters participated in a 4-year, mixed method study and annually completed a structured interview protocol and a sub-group also completed a qualitative interview. The quantitative findings from the study suggest that daughters having an internal locus of control, experiencing fewer negative life events, and reporting stronger parental and teacher social support had enhanced emotional well-being over the 4-year study compared to daughters without these factors. The findings were further elaborated with examples from qualitative interviews conducted with the daughters. The findings were used to propose prevention activities using a tertiary mental health preventive intervention framework.


adolescent girls resilience prevention emotional well-being 


  1. 1.
    Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, P.L. 104–193, 110 Stat. 2105.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Children Now. Content analysis on welfare reform reporting. Available at: Accessed June 17, 2003.
  3. 3.
    Gennetian LA, Duncan GJ, Knox VW, et al. How Welfare and Work Policies for Parents Affect Adolescents: A Synthesis of Research. New York: Manpower Development Research Corporation; 2002.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Taylor MH. The potential impact of gender roles socialization on welfare policy formation. Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare. 2000;27:135–152.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Brooks MG, Buckner JC. Work history and welfare: job histories, barriers to employment, and predictors of work among low-income single mothers. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry. 1996;66:526–537.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Furstenberg F. The next generation: the children of teenage mothers grow up. In: Rosenbaum M, Testa M, eds. Early Parenthood and Coming of Age in the 1990s. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press; 1992:113–135.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Gottschalk P, McLanahan S, Sandefur G. The dynamics and intergenerational transmission of poverty and welfare participation. In: Danziger SH, Sandefour GD, Weinberg DH, eds. Confronting Poverty: Prescriptions for Change. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press; 1994:85–108.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Boothroyd RA, Olufokunbi D. Leaving the welfare rolls: the health and mental health status of current and former welfare recipients. Mental Health Service Research. 2001;3:119–128.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Boushey H, Gundersen B. When working just isn’t enough: measuring the hardships faced by families after moving from welfare to work. Available at: Accessed April 5, 2002.
  10. 10.
    Lichter DT, Crowley MC. Poverty in American: beyond welfare reform. Population Bulletin. 2000;57:1–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Kirby D. No Easy Answers: Research Findings on Programs to Reduce Teen Pregnancy. Washington, DC: National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, Task Force on Effective Programs and Research; 1997.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Fraser MW, ed. Risk and Resilience in Childhood: An Ecological Perspective. Washington, DC: NASW Press; 1997.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Egeland B, Carlson E, Sruofe LA. Resilience as process. Development and Psychopathology. 1993;5:517–528.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Smith C, Carlson BE. Stress, coping and resilience in children and youth. Social Service Review. 1997;71:231–256.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Masten AS, Morison P, Pellegrini D, et al. Competence under stress: risk and protective factors. In: Weintraub S, ed. Risk and Protective Factors in the Development of Psychopathology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; 1990:236–256.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Rutter M. Psychosocial resilience and protective mechanisms. In: Weintraub S, ed. Risk and Protective Factors in the Development of Psychopathology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; 1990:181–214.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Luthar SS, Cicchetti D, Becker B. The construct of resilience: a critical evaluation and guidelines for future work. Child Development. 2000;72:543–562.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Rankin BH, Quane JM. Social contexts and urban adolescent outcomes: The interrelated effects of neighborhoods, families, and peers on African-American youth. Social Problems. 2002;49:79–100.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    McCabe KM, Barnett D. The relation between familial factors and the future orientation of urban, African American sixth graders. Journal of Child and Family Studies. 2000;9:491–508.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Jodl KM, Michael A, Oksana M, et al. Parents’ role in shaping early adolescents’ occupational aspirations. Child Development. 2001;72:1247–1265.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Mrazek PJ, Haggerty RH, eds. Reducing Risks for Mental Disorders: Frontiers for Preventive Intervention Research/Committee on Prevention of Mental Disorders, Division of Biobehavioral Sciences and Mental Disorders, Institute of Medicine. Washington, D.C.: National Academy of Sciences; 1994.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Leginski WA, Croze C, Driggers J, et al. Data Standards for Mental Health Decision Support Systems. (ADM89-1589). Rockville, MD: National Institute of Mental Health; 1989.Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Fetzer Institute, National Institute on Aging Working Group. Multidimensional measurement of religiousness, spirituality for use in health research. Kalamazoo, MI: Fetzer Institute; 2003 (1999).Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Epstein NB, Baldwin LM, Bishop DS. The McMaster Family Assessment Device. Journal of Marital & Family Therapy. 1983;9:171–180.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Kabacoff RI, Miller IW, Bishop DS, et al. A psychometric study of the McMaster Family Assessment Device in psychiatric, medical and nonclinical samples. Journal of Family Psychology. 1990;3:431–439.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Miller IW, Epstein NB, Bishop DS, et al. The McMaster Family Assessment Device: reliability and validity. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy. 1985;1:345–356.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Byles J, Byrne C, Boyle MH, et al. Ontario Child Health Study: reliability and validity of the General Functioning Subscale of the McMaster Family Assessment Device. Family Process. 1988;27:97–104.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Norwicki S Jr, Strickland BR. Study presents reliability and validity evidence concerning measure of locus of control for children. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. 1973;40:148–154.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Smith VK. Analysis of Locus of Control and Educational Level Utilizing the Internal Control Index. Master’s Thesis, Marshall University; 2003.Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Rosenberg M. Society and the Adolescent Self-Image. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press; 1965.Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Blascovich J, Tomaka J. Measures of self-esteem. In: Robinson JP, Shaver PR, Wrightsman LS, eds. Measures of Personality and Social Psychological Attitudes. Third edition. Ann Arbor: Institute for Social Research; 1993:115–160.Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    McCarthy JD, Hoge DR. Analysis of age effects in longitudinal studies of adolescent self-esteem. Developmental Psychology. 1982;18:372–279.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Shahani C, Dipboye RL, Phillips AP. Global self-esteem as a correlate of work-related attitudes: a question of dimensionality. Journal of Personality Assessment. 1990;54:276–288.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Silbert E, Tippett JS. Self-esteem: clinical assessment and measurement validation. Psychological Reports. 1965;16:1017–1071.Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Monaghan JJ, Robinson JO, Dodge JA. The children’s life events inventory. Journal of Psychosomatic Research. 1979;23:3–68.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.
    Harter S. Manual for the Social Support Scale for Children. Denver, CO: University of Denver; 1985.Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    Varni JW, Katz ER. Stress, social support, and negative affectivity in children with newly diagnosed cancer: a prospective transactional analysis. Psychooncology. 1997;6:267–278.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. 38.
    Radloff LS. The CES-D Scale: a self-report depression scale for research in the general population. Applied Psychological Measurement. 1977;1:385–401.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. 39.
    Jellinek MS, Murphy JM, Burns BJ. Brief psychosocial screening in outpatient pediatric practice. The Journal of Pediatrics. 1986;109:371–378.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. 40.
    Shern DL, Wilson NZ, Coen AS, et al. Client outcomes II: longitudinal client data from the Colorado Treatment Outcome Study. The Milbank Quarterly. 1994;72:123–148.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. 41.
    Hann D, Winter K, Jacobsen P. Measurement of depressive symptoms in cancer patients. Evaluation of the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale (CES-D). Journal of Psychosomatic Research. 1999;46:437–443.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. 42.
    Hertzog C, Van Alstine J, Usala P, et al. Measurement properties of the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale (CES-D) in older populations. Psychological Assessment. 1990;2:64–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. 43.
    Knight RG, Williams S, McGee R, et al. Psychometric properties of the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale (CES-D) in a sample of women in middle life. Behavior Research and Therapy. 1997;35:373–380.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. 44.
    Nguyen HT, Kitner-Triolo M, Evans MK, et al. Factorial invariance of the CES-D in low socioeconomic status African Americans compared with a nationally representative sample. Psychiatry Research. 2004;126:177–187.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. 45.
    Weissman MM, Sholamskas D, Pottenger M, et al. Assessing depressive symptoms in five psychiatric populations: a validation study. American Journal of Epidemiology. 1977;106:203–214.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  46. 46.
    Jellinek M, Murphy JM, Robinson J, et al. The pediatric symptom checklist: screening school-aged children for psychosocial dysfunction. The Journal of Pediatrics. 1988;112:201–209.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. 47.
    Murphy JM, Jellinek MS, Milinsky S. The Pediatric Symptom Checklist: validation in real world middle school. Journal of Pediatric Psychology. 1989;14:629–639.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. 48.
    Murphy JM, Reede J, Jellinek MS, et al. Screening for psychosocial dysfunction in inner-city children: further validation of the Pediatric Symptom Checklist. Journal of the American Academy of Child Adolescent Psychiatry. 1992;31:1105–1111.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. 49.
    Jellinek MS, Murphy JM. The recognition of psychosocial disorders in pediatric office practice: the current status of the Pediatric Symptom Checklist. Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics. 1990;11:273–278.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. 50.
    Jellinek MS, Murphy JM, Burns BJ. Brief psychosocial screening in outpatient pediatric practice. The Journal of Pediatrics. 1986;109:371–378.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. 51.
    Jellinek MS, Murphy JM, Little M, et al. Use of the Pediatric Symptom Checklist to screen for psychosocial problems in pediatric primary care. Archive of Adolescent Medicine. 1999;153:254–260.Google Scholar
  52. 52.
    Boothroyd RA, Gomez MI, Armstrong MI, et al. Young and poor: the well-being of adolescent girls living in families receiving temporary assistance for needy families program. Journal of Child and Family Studies. 2005;14:141–154.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. 53.
    Davis M. Addressing the needs of youth in transition to adulthood. Administration and Policy in Mental Health. 2003;30:495–509.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. 54.
    Wagner M, Davis M. How are we preparing students with emotional disturbances for the transition to young adulthood? Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders. 2006;14:86–98.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. 55.
    Quinn J. Where need meets opportunity: youth development programs for early teens. The Future of Children. 1999;9:96–116.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. 56.
    Jekielek MA, Moore KA, Hair EC. Mentoring Programs and Youth Development: A Synthesis. Washington, DC: Child Trends; 2002.Google Scholar
  57. 57.
    Kroenke K, Spitzer RL, Williams JB. The PHQ-9: a new depression diagnostic and severity measure. Psychiatric Annals. 2002;32:509–515.Google Scholar
  58. 58.
    Miranda J, Green BL. The need for mental health services research focusing on poor young women. The Journal of Mental Health Policy and Economics. 1999;2:73–80.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. 59.
    Corrigan PW, Penn DL. Lessons from social psychology on discrediting psychiatric stigma. American Psychologist. 1999;54:765–776.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. 60.
    The President’s New Freedom Commission on Mental Health. Achieving the Promise: Transforming Mental Health Care in America. Rockville MD: DHHS Pub. No. SMA-03-3832; 2003.Google Scholar
  61. 61.
    Randolph W, Viswanath K. Lessons learned from public health mass media campaigns: marketing health in a crowded media world. Annual Review of Public Health. 2004;25:419–437.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. 62.
    Marian H, Potter LD, Wong FL, et al. Effects of a mass media campaign to increase physical activity among children: year-1 results of the VERB campaign. Pediatrics 2005;116:e277–e284. URL: Scholar
  63. 63.
    Center for Mental Health Services. Caring for Every Child’s Mental Health Campaign. Available at: Accessed October 6, 2006.

Copyright information

© National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of State and Local Support, Department of Child and Family StudiesLouis de la Parte Florida Mental Health InstituteTampaUSA
  2. 2.Department of Mental Health Law and PolicyLouis de la Parte Florida Mental Health InstituteTampaUSA

Personalised recommendations