Health Disparities in Youth and Families: Research and Applications

By Rine, Christine M. | Health and Social Work, February 2012 | Go to article overview

Health Disparities in Youth and Families: Research and Applications


Rine, Christine M., Health and Social Work


Health Disparities in Youth and Families: Research and Applications. Gustavo Carlo, Lisa J. Crockett, and Miguel A. Carranza (Eds.). New York: Springer, 2011, 173 pages. ISBN: 978-1-4419-7091-6, $129.00 hardcover.

Health Disparities in Youth and Families: Research and Applications is volume 57 of the Nebraska Symposium on Motivation monograph series. This annual publication contains the proceedings of this symposium, which was coordinated by the volume's editors, Gustavo Carlo, Lisa J. Crockett, and Miguel A. Carranza. The Nebraska Symposium on Motivation series is edited by Barbara A. Hope and is supported by the University of Nebraska Foundation through a Department of Psychology endowment. However, the series and this volume are interdisciplinary in nature and aim to present a range of scholarship around a focused topic. This volume spotlights health disparities among youths and families from diverse fields and perspectives.

The book is well organized. It starts with an introductory chapter by the editors, who frame the topic as a whole and the six chapters that follow. The inclusion of distinct and specific aspects of health disparities is well balanced, and the authors reflect expertise in their fields of research. Carlo, Crockett, and Carranza set the stage for what follows in their first chapter, "Understanding Ethnic/Racial Health Disparities in Youth and Families in the US," by providing the reader with a common thread linking the chapters: motivation, as the series title suggests. However, the bridge connecting motivation and health disparities is somewhat lacking. In their first paragraph, the editors assert that theories of motivation play a central role in understanding health outcomes and disparities and promise that this will become evident in the chapters that follow. Although they revisit this link later in a chapter-by-chapter overview, readers would benefit from the enunciation of a more detailed rationale at the start. The editors' introduction successfully presents relevant trends in data and factors associated with health disparities through a review of topical research, which will be particularly helpful to those less familiar with the subject matter and related literature. This first chapter concludes by suggesting that useful models for addressing health disparities are best realized through interdisciplinary and broad-based approaches, which are exemplified in the chapters that follow.

The second chapter is written by Ana Mari Cauce, Rick Cruz, Marissa Corona, and Rand Conger and is titled "The Face of the Future: Risk and Resilience in Minority Youth." The authors quickly grab the reader's attention by using the racially diverse background of President Obama to demonstrate the current, projected, and equally diverse racial make-up of the United States. This chapter poses the following question: "Is the majority-minority future something to look forward to, or something to worry about and fear?" (p. 13). Before clarifying the context of their question, the authors present demographic information that lays the foundation for their overall aim. Specifically, they note that those under 18 years of age who are members of racial/ ethnic minority groups are, in essence, not minorities by numbers. Census data reveal that among this age group, non-Caucasians often constitute more than half of the population. This is the case in many geographic areas currently and is projected to become more common across the United States by 2020. The fear that the authors refer to is never clearly explained; however, it appears to reflect the idea that society is poorly prepared to understand or meet the needs of minority youths. The authors address this challenge by exploring areas of current and potential risk and resilience, with an emphasis on adolescence and a contextual focus on neighborhood, school, and family. Throughout the chapter, President Obama's life experiences are used to illustrate the possible processes of risk and resilience and how they may occur within the life of an individual youth and within his or her family. …

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