The Relationship of Individual and Contextual Risk Factors with Social-Emotional Health among Iranian Residential Foster Care Adolescents

Authors

1 Department of Psychology Tarbiat Modares University

2 Department of Educational Research University of Tehran

Abstract

The present study investigated risk and resilience processes in a sample of residential foster care Iranian adolescents.  Based on Jessor’s (1998) Problem Behavior Theory, the risk factors comprised theoretically derived composite indices computed for three kinds of risk:  models risk, opportunity risk and vulnerability risk at the individual and at four contextual levels: the foster home, peers, school and the neighborhood.  For this purpose, adolescent girls (n = 69) and boys (n = 71) living in eight residential foster homes in the city of Tehran, responded to an adapted version of the Adolescent Health and Development Questionnaire, Jessor, 1998) and their caregivers rated the adolescents’ mental health with the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ, Goodman, 2001). Dimensional measures of conduct problems, ADHD, emotional symptoms, and prosocial behavior were associated directly with several risk factors indices and with interaction of risk factors. Also, gender interacted with risk factors to predict health outcomes.  Neither main effects nor interaction effects were predictive of peer problems.  The risk factors associated with foster home adolescents’ social and emotional health are broadly in line with previous published findings.  Indicated prevention public health programs should target this high-risk population and seek to reduce risk factors while simultaneously strengthening protective factors to enhance adolescents’ mental health.  In addition, these programs need to address multiple targets, which will benefit a wide range of individuals in this population.

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