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Neighborhood Profiles and Associations with Coping Behaviors among Low-Income Youth

Abstract

Extant research has typically examined neighborhood characteristics in isolation using variable-centered approaches; however, there is reason to believe that perceptions of the neighborhood environment influence each other, requiring the use of person-centered approaches to study these relationships. The present study sought to determine profiles of youth that differ in their perceptions of their neighborhoods and objective neighborhood characteristics, and whether these profiles are associated with youth coping. Participants were low-income, African American youth (N= 733; 51.0% female, M age = 18.76 years, SD = 1.71) from a metropolitan city who were originally recruited for the Youth Opportunity program in Baltimore, Maryland. A latent profile analysis was conducted which included self-reported neighborhood social cohesion, collective efficacy, disorder, violence, and disadvantage derived from census data. Coping behaviors, specifically positive cognitive restructuring, problem-focused coping, distraction strategies, and avoidant behaviors were assessed via self-reported questionnaires. Four neighborhood profiles were identified: highest disorder (20.0%); highest violence/highest disadvantage (5.2%); high violence (26.6%); and highest cohesion/lowest disorder (48.2%). Individuals in the highest violence/highest disadvantage profile reported higher positive cognitive restructuring and problem-focused coping than the other profiles. These findings warrant an investigation into the individual assets and contextual resources that may contribute to more positive coping behaviors among youth in more violent and disadvantaged neighborhoods, which has the potential to improve resilient outcomes among youth in similar at-risk settings.

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Fig. 1

Notes

  1. All alphas reported were calculated based on the current study sample.

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Acknowledgements

We thank all study participants, in addition to D.T., the principal investigator of the current project.

Authors’ Contributions

J.R. developed the research questions, conducted the analyses, and led the writing of the paper; T.P. helped generate the research questions and study conceptualization; R.S. created the community disadvantage index, was involved in interpreting the results, and helped edit the manuscript; B.R. and K.G. provided their statistical and methodological expertise in latent profile modeling and aided in selecting the model that best fit the data; A.M., M.S., and D.F. provided their expertise in examining neighborhood-level influences on youth’s mental health and offered feedback on the manuscript conceptualization; A.L. led the collection of data and provided guidance on the research framing and writing; D.T. conceived of and supervised the study as the principal investigator on the grant supporting the researchers’ time on this project and assisted in editing the manuscript. All authors approved the final manuscript as submitted and agree to be accountable for all aspects of the work.

Funding

Funding for the implementation of the Healthy Minds at Work intervention came from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Jacob and Hilda Blaustein Foundation, The Abell Foundation, the Leonard and Helen R. Stulman Foundation, The Annie E. Casey Foundation, Aaron Straus and Lillie Straus Foundation, and the France-Merrick Foundation. The research portion of Healthy Minds at Work was developed as the core research project of the Johns Hopkins Center for Adolescent Health, a prevention research center funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (grant no. 1-U48-DP-000040).

Data Sharing and Declaration

This manuscript’s data will not be deposited. However, data from the current study can be obtained from the Principal Investigator, D.T.

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Correspondence to Jill A. Rabinowitz.

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All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional review board at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health (IRB #NA 00021362) and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

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Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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Rabinowitz, J.A., Powell, T., Sadler, R. et al. Neighborhood Profiles and Associations with Coping Behaviors among Low-Income Youth. J Youth Adolescence 49, 494–505 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-019-01176-y

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Keywords

  • Neighborhood risk and protective factors
  • Latent profiles
  • Urban youth
  • Coping