DR. BETH SPENCINER ROSENTHAL
Professor
York College and
The Graduate Center
The City University of New York
Jamaica, NY 11451
Office: AC - 3B03
P: 718-262-2615
F: 718-262-3790

rosenthal@york.cuny.edu

 


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Stress Among Urban Adolescents

Beth Spenciner Rosenthal, PI

This research (funded by the National Institutes of Health) (NIH)) focuses on stress in older adolescents. It is guided by the theoretical view that stress is the product of the interaction between an individual’s adverse experiences and the individual’s resiliency characteristics; and that stress produces undesirable psychosocial outcomes. Early work examined adverse experiences such as exposure to interpersonal violence, being discriminated against, and being poor; resiliency characteristics such as a sense of personal adequacy, the presence of emotional social support, and religious values; and psychosocial outcomes such as psychological distress, school performance and physical illness. Current research seeks to identify who develops Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) symptoms and who does not; and to understand why one person does and another does not. The research takes a “person-centered” approach and uses the statistical procedure, latent class analysis with covariates. The research will identify four types of individuals: 1) those who have high trauma and high symptoms (PTSD symptoms); 2) those with high trauma and low symptoms ("Resilient"); 3) those with low trauma and high symptoms ("Stress Prone"); and 4) individuals with low trauma and low symptoms ("Idealized Norm"). The research will estimate the relative frequency of older adolescents in each of the prototypical categories; and identify the protective/vulnerability factors that differentiate among the four prototypes. Since beginning her research at York, Dr. Rosenthal and her team have collected data from approximately 4000 adolescents living in all the boroughs of NYC; and from approximately 500 adolescents living in Jamaica, West Indies. Among the many findings of the research are: there is considerable variation in trauma experienced during adolescence and in PTSD symptoms at the end of adolescence; the level of PTSD symptoms at the end of adolescence is a joint function of traumatic events (e.g., victim of violence, witness of violence, victim of accidents, interpersonal loss) and protective factors (e.g., emotional social support, sense of personal efficacy, easygoing temperament, gender); protective factors have a larger effect on psychological distress than do trauma variables.

Over 30 research assistants have worked on this project since its inception 16 years ago; these assistants have been both graduate and undergraduate students and they have majored in several disciplines. All have gone on to graduate school.

Beth Rosenthal, the Principal Investigator, is a member of the Social Sciences Department at York College; she is also a member of the faculty of The Graduate Center. Dr. Rosenthal is one of 15 "leading U.S. social work researchers"; she was given the York College Presidential Award for Scholarship in 2010.


YORK COLLEGE THE CITY UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK, 94-20 GUY R. BREWER BLVD. JAMAICA, NY 11451