Trauma, Family Factors and the Mental Health of Homeless Adolescents

Abstract

Family factors, such as poor family functioning and trauma, have been associated with negative outcomes for homeless adolescents. Further study is needed to better understand how family factors and trauma jointly relate to mental health problems and externalizing behaviors among homeless adolescents. Structural equation modeling was used to examine the influence of trauma (encompassing traumatic events experienced prior to, and after, becoming homeless) and family factors (poor family functioning and family conflict) on mental health problems and externalizing behaviors (substance use, delinquent behaviors, and sexual risk) among 201 homeless adolescents, ages 12 to 17 years. Trauma, poor family functioning, and family conflict significantly predicted greater mental health problems, delinquent behaviors, high-risk sexual behaviors and substance use. Overall, the findings suggest that family factors appear to be key to understanding mental health problems and externalizing behaviors among homeless adolescents. Implications, limitations and future directions are addressed.

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Milburn, N.G., Stein, J.A., Lopez, S.A. et al. Trauma, Family Factors and the Mental Health of Homeless Adolescents. Journ Child Adol Trauma 12, 37–47 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40653-017-0157-9

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Keywords

  • Homeless adolescents
  • Trauma
  • Family
  • Mental health
  • Mental health problems
  • Externalizing behaviors
  • Family conflict
  • Youth high-risk behaviors