• Determinants of Early Adolescent Girls' Health

      Harris, Robin B.; Nuno, Velia Leybas; Roe, Denise; Garcia, Francisco; Shahar, Eyal; Harris, Robin B. (The University of Arizona., 2012)
      Adolescence is a period of development when health-related behaviors can become rooted and subsequently contributes to leading causes of adult morbidity and mortality. The dissertation is based on three studies. The first is a cohort study (n=577) of sixth grade students followed for 2.5 years to assess changes in smoking susceptibility measured by intention to smoke. The second study applies a pre-post design to evaluate the outcomes of a 13-week after-school program and three-day, in-residence University camp on personal and familial factors among 37 sixth grade girls, most of whom were Mexican American. The third study is a cross-sectional study of depression among 80 sixth grade girls, the majority of whom were Mexican American. A survey measured depression severity and familial and individual factors that influence depression. Results showed smoking intention increased nearly six-fold from sixth grade to eighth grade (OR=5.8, 95% CI: 1.19, 3.05). The intervention study resulted in changes from pre to post test in familial and personal factors. The prevalence of depression was 50% among participants in the third study, 38% of girls reported moderate to severe levels. In sum, the greater prevalence of smoking intention over time suggests a norm of acceptance occurring as students' progress through middle school. Protective factors from such attitudes differ by gender and are influenced by the relationships surrounding the adolescent. Similarly, relationships were protective in the study of depression. The father's relationship with his daughter guards against depression as does positive peer relationships. These relationships can be strengthened through interventions as was suggested in the intervention study. Study findings emphasize the protective influence familial and peer relationships have on the developing adolescent.