The past two decades have seen a large increase in epidemiological and community surveys of children's and adolescents' general health and mental health (Cockerham, 1990; Garrison, Schuluchter, Schoenback & Kaplan, 1989; Stavrakaki & Gaudet, 1989). Depending upon the investigator's interests, the relationships between general health and mental health status and various demographic variables have been studied. Although race has been routinely included in such studies, the findings regarding this variable have been inconclusive. Whereas some investigations indicate that race is a significant correlate (Garrison et al. 1989; Johnson, 1989; Martinez & Dukes, 1987; Levinson, Powell & Stillman, 1986), others have not found significant relationships (Davis, 1988; Doerfler, Felner, Rowlinson, & Raley, 1988; Garber, 1984), or have suggested that race becomes a factor when combined with socioeconomic status (Cockerham, 1990; Cairns, Cairns, & Neckerman, 1989; Gibbs, 1985). Several of these studies have used psychiatric diagnosis or psychological symptoms as the criterion for establishing groups. It might be useful, therefore, to compare nonclinical racial groups on normative, preclinical variables that are known to be associated with general health or mental health. Depressive mood is such a variable.
Depressive affect or mood has been found to be significantly related to morbidity and mortality in the case of renal disease (Numan, Barklin, & Lubin, 1981), and to general health status (Lubin, Zuckerman, Breytspraak, Bull, Gumbhir, & Rinck, 1988). Depressive affect also significantly predicts major affective illness (Zuckerman, Lubin, Rinck, Soliday, Albott, & Carlson, 1986). The Depression Adjective Check Lists (DACL; Lubin, 1981; in press) have been widely used to measure normative and pathological mood (Lubin, Swearngin, & Seaton, 1992). The purpose of this study, therefore, is to present data that bear on the question of the relationship between race and affect in adolescents by comparing the depressive affect of female black and white junior and senior high school students.
As part of a larger investigation, 21 white female adolescents (age: M = 15.1, SD = 2.0; education: M = 10.4, SD = 2.12) and 19 black female adolescents (age: M = 15.3, SD = 1.72; education: M = 10.1, SD = 2.10) from the same large midwestern, urban school served as subjects. The majority in each group were from the lower or lower middle socioeconomic class as inferred from their parents' occupations.
The Depression Adjective Check Lists (DACL; Lubin, 1981; in press) consist of seven lists of adjectives arranged in two sets: each list of Set 1 (A, B, C, D) contains 32 nonrecurring adjectives with depressive or nondepressive connotations; each list of Set 2 (E, F, G), contains 34 nonrecurring adjectives with depressive or nondepressive connotations. There is a state version ("How You Feel Today") and a trait version ("How You Generally Feel"). Adequate reliability and validity of the state version (Lubin, Whitlock, McCollum, Thummel, Denman, & Powers, submitted) and the trait version (Lubin, McCollum, Whitlock, Thummel, Powers, & Davis, submitted) have been established for adolescents. The instrument has been reviewed favorably by Goodstein (1974) and Petzel (1985). The trait version of Set 2 of the DACL was used in this study.
All subjects completed the DACL in their homerooms. The lists were administered in the following order: E, F, G.
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
Table 1 presents the means and standard deviations of the black and the two white female adolescent groups on Set 2 of the DACL. No significant differences were found between black and white female adolescent groups on age or education. Also, groups did not differ on depressive affect, although white adolescent female means in both samples on the three forms of the DACL were consistently higher. Table 1 also indicates that there were no significant differences between the black sample and another sample of white, 15-year-old females from the same school system.
The expectation that black female adolescents would score significantly higher on depressive affect comes from findings of other studies which indicate that black adolescents score significantly higher on those psychological factors and experiences that are thought to be related to mood or affect such as: school dropout (Carins, Cairns, & Neckerman, 1989), anxiety (Johnson, 1989), unfavorable body image (Levinson, Powell, & Stillman, 1986), and lower self-esteem (Martinez & Dukes, 1987).
A related issue has to do with the advisability of developing separate race norms for assessment instruments (Barefoot, Peterson, Dahlstrom, & Siegler, 1991; Robyak & Byers, 1990). Some interest has been shown during the past few years in developing separate race norms for frequently used assessment instruments (Kaufman, McLean, & Reynolds, 1991; Davis, Greenblatt, & Pochyly, 1990), although little attention to this matter can be found in connection with the most frequently used assessment instruments during the previous half century (Lubin, Larsen, & Matarazzo, 1984; Lubin, Wallis, & Paine, 1971). Unfortunately, the findings of this study do not provide support for either side of the question.
Table 1 Means and Standard Deviations For Black and White Female Adolescents On The Depression Adjective Check Lists DACL N E F G M SD M SD M SD (1) Black 19 7.74 4.62 8.58 6.05 8.79 6.09 (2) White 21 9.05 5.40 9.14 5.76 10.05 4.97 (3) White 37 8.03 4.22 8.66 4.52 8.80 4.97 t(1vs2) -.42 -.76 -.72 df 38 38 38 p ns. ns. ns. t(1vs3) .23 .05 .02 df 54 54 54 p ns. ns. ns.
Limitations of the present study suggest that its findings should be considered as preliminary. The data come from a small convenience sample without corroborating interview or additional testing. The study does, however, indicate the feasibility of using the DACL in studies involving racial comparisons.
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Kristy L. McCollum is a graduate student at the University of Missouri at Kansas City.…