Racial, ethnic, and neighborhood income disparities in childhood posttraumatic stress and grief: Exploring indirect effects through trauma exposure and bereavement

Robyn D. Douglas, Lauren M. Alvis, Evan E. Rooney, Danielle R. Busby, Julie B. Kaplow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations

Abstract

Previous findings suggest that experiences with systems of oppression that disproportionately affect individuals based on race and neighborhood residency (e.g., systemic racism, neighborhood income disadvantage [NID]) can be associated with higher odds of developing psychological problems following traumatic events. Although race/ethnicity and NID residency are often associated, they are separate concepts that play unique roles in mental health outcomes among youth. Residents of Black, Latinx, and income-disadvantaged communities also have an increased risk of exposure to polyvictimization and the loss of multiple loved ones. Studies have not carefully delineated the potential relations between race/ethnicity and NID residency, polyvictimization, accumulated losses, and trauma and grief outcomes in youth. We examined mediation models to investigate whether polyvictimization, the loss of multiple loved ones, and exposure to violent death were potential mechanisms through which race/ethnicity and NID would predict trauma and grief outcomes in youth. Participants (N = 429) included Black (19.9%), Latinx (36.0%), and White (27.3%) children and adolescents who were assessed through a routine baseline assessment at a trauma and grief outpatient clinic. Black youth reported significantly elevated posttraumatic stress and maladaptive grief symptoms through higher polyvictimization and violent death exposure relative to White youth, βs =.06–.12, ps <.001. Latinx identity and NID were positively and directly associated with specific domains of maladaptive grief reactions, βs =.10–.17, ps <.001. If replicated longitudinally, these findings suggest that polyvictimization and violent death exposure may be mechanisms through which Black youth develop more severe traumatic stress and grief reactions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)929-942
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Traumatic Stress
Volume34
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2021
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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