Contextual Stress and Health Risk Behaviors Among African American Adolescents

Nikeea Copeland-Linder, Sharon F. Lambert, Yi Fu Chen, Nicholas S. Ialongo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

77 Scopus citations


This study examined the longitudinal association between contextual stress and health risk behaviors and the role of protective factors in a community epidemiologically-defined sample of urban African American adolescents (N = 500; 46.4% female). Structural equation modeling was used to create a latent variable measuring contextual stress (community violence, neighborhood disorder, and experiences with racial discrimination). Contextual stress in 8th grade was associated with aggressive behavior and substance use 2 years later for boys. For girls, contextual stress predicted later substance use, but not aggressive behavior. High academic competence and self-worth reduced the impact of contextual stress on substance use for boys. Implications for intervention and directions for future research on health risk behaviors among African American adolescents are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)158-173
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Youth and Adolescence
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2011


  • Aggression
  • Protective factors
  • Resilience
  • Stress
  • Substance use

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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