Racial/ethnic differences in trauma exposure and mental health disorders in adolescents

Cristina M. López, Arthur R. Andrews, Andrea M. Chisolm, Michael A. de Arellano, Benjamin Saunders, Dean G. Kilpatrick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

104 Scopus citations


Objective: Research has cited increased prevalence of mood disorders, anxiety disorders, and exposure to interpersonal violence for Hispanics and non-Hispanic Black adolescents, as well as ethnic differences in externalizing behavior (e.g., substance use, delinquency). The current study combined these areas by examining racial/ethnic differences in mental health correlates of trauma exposure. Method: Interviews were conducted to assess polyvictimization, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), major depressive disorder (MDD), substance use, and delinquency in a nationally representative sample of adolescents (N = 3,614; 15.4% non-Hispanic Black; 11.3% Hispanic; 64.9% non-Hispanic White). Results: Hispanic and non-Hispanic Black adolescents endorsed greater polyvictimization than non-Hispanic Whites; however, differences in MDD and PTSD were only significant when assessed with symptom counts. Non-Hispanic Black adolescents reported the least drug use. Non-Hispanic Black and Hispanic adolescents endorsed more delinquency than non-Hispanic White adolescents. Polyvictimization only accounted for ethnic disparities in delinquency. Conclusion: Trauma-related disparities may differ across internalizing and externalizing concerns. Subsequent research should continue to examine other factors that may contribute to racial/ethnic differences in trauma sequelae.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)382-387
Number of pages6
JournalCultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2017


  • Adolescence
  • Depression
  • Ethnic differences
  • Trauma exposure
  • Trauma reactions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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