Psychological distress and associated factors among Mexican American adolescent females

Pamela Recto, Jane Dimmitt Champion

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Introduction: Mental health literacy is a critical component of adolescent health enabling recognition, management, and prevention of psychological distress. Adolescents engaging in risk behaviors and experiencing interpersonal violence, substance use, and pregnancy are at high risk for psychological distress. Method: Secondary analysis of data collected via a control randomized trial among Mexican American females (aged 14-18 years; N = 461) experiencing high-risk sexual behavior, interpersonal violence, and sexually transmitted infection was conducted with comparisons of psychological distress by pregnancy status. Results: At study entry, 46.4% (n = 214) self-reported ever experiencing pregnancy (ever-pregnant) while 53.6% (n = 246) selfreported never experiencing pregnancy (never-pregnant). Adolescents reporting ever-pregnancy status were older and school dropouts. However, adolescents reporting never-pregnancy experienced higher sexual risk behaviors, substance use, interpersonal violence, and psychological distress than those reporting ever-pregnancy. A higher proportion of ever-versus neverpregnant adolescents were born in Mexico and preferred Spanish language indicating less acculturation. Conclusions: Findings support the need for mental health literacy concerning psychological distress with consideration of implications of acculturation among adolescents experiencing high-risk sexual behavior, interpersonal violence, and substance use. More never-than everpregnant adolescents were attending school, presenting opportunities for implementation of health promotion strategies within community health settings for mental health literacy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)170-176
Number of pages7
JournalHispanic Health Care International
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Access to care
  • Community health
  • Mexican/Latino youth
  • Reproductive health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)


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