Methods:This study considered the utility of a universal family-based preventive intervention, the Strong African American Families (SAAF) program, in reducing depressive symptoms among rural African American youth during the developmental transition from middle childhood to adolescence. Across three waves, a sample of 667 rural African American youth (Mage= 11.21, SD= 0.41 at time 1) provided self-reported responses about parental protective processes (racial socialization and affectively positive relationships) and youth protective processes (self-esteem and racial centrality/Black pride). Teachers provided reports of youth depressive symptoms.
Results: Preliminary analyses revealed that, at 36-month follow up, youth in the SAAF program had significantly higher self-esteem (Mcontrol= 42.68, SDcontrol= 6.19; MSAAF= 41.44, SDSAAF= 7.07, F(1, 665) = 5.64, p = 0.02)and racial socialization than youth in the control group (Mcontrol= 33.16, SDcontrol= 7.58; MSAAF= 34.94, SDSAAF= 5.89, F(1, 301) = 5.29, p= 0.02)and that youth in the control group had higher teacher reports of depressive symptoms (Mcontrol= 2.46, SDcontrol = 2.81; MSAAF= 1.55 SDSAAF= 2.23, F(1, 572), 18.70, p < 0.00. Further, regression analyses indicated that the combination of racial socialization, self-esteem, and group assignment predicted teacher reports of youth depressive symptoms. Future path analyses will examine the specific mechanisms through which the SAAF program reduced depressive symptoms among youth exposed to the preventive intervention.
Conclusion: Taken together, findings from this study support the importance of understanding the impact the universal family-based preventive interventions have on the psychological functioning of African American youth.