Background: Both depression and a history of abuse have known negative consequences on the overall health of adolescents and young adults (AYAs). Research is not clear, however, on the interactive influence of abuse and depression on academic achievement, especially among AYAs of color. Objective(s): This study aims to assess the interactive influence of abuse and depression on academic grades among African American and Latino AYAs. Methods: The study sample was made up of 476 predominantly urban African American and Latino youth ages 14 to 24. Study participants completed a demographic questionnaire (which included self-reported grades) and the Beck Depression Inventory for Primary Care-Fast Screen. Screenings for abuse were done through three structured methods using the Childhood Maltreatment Interview Schedule-Short Form, a short-structured questionnaire, and a face-to-face unstructured interview with a clinical provider. Findings: Depression had a significant main effect on grades, while abuse did not. Abuse and depression had a significant interactive effect on grades in that non-depressed adolescents who reported abuse had an almost four point higher average grade score than their non-depressed counterparts who did not report abuse. Conclusions: Our findings highlight an unexpected effect in AYAs of color with a history of abuse but no history of depression, suggesting that perhaps there is something intrinsic to this group’s resilience or their support systems that protects both against depression and supports their academic achievement. In conclusion, abuse alone does not serve as a predictor of grade achievement. Further work should be done to determine influential factors behind this relationship, with recommendations for school-based counselors and medical providers to screen for depression along with abuse in AYAs in order to determine how best to support this population.
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