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Contextual risks and psychosocial outcomes among rural African American emerging adults: A latent profile analysis

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 December 2020

Trenette Clark Goings*
School of Social Work, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, USA
Tianyi Yu
Center for Family Research, University of Georgia, Athens, GA, USA
Gene H. Brody
Center for Family Research, University of Georgia, Athens, GA, USA
Author for Correspondence: Trenette Clark Goings, 325 Pittsboro St., CB #3550, Chapel Hill, NC27599, USA; E-mail:


African American emerging adults face unique contextual risks that place them at heightened risk for poor psychosocial outcomes. The purpose of this study was to identify profiles of contextual risks among rural African American emerging adults and determine how risk profiles relate to psychosocial outcomes. Our representative sample included 667 fifth graders who live in the rural South and were followed from preadolescence into emerging adulthood. Contextual risks were assessed at ages 19–21 years via six indicators: perceived stress, daily stress, community disadvantage, parent–child conflict, racial discrimination, and childhood trauma. Four psychosocial variables were also assessed at ages 19–21 years: self-regulation, racial identity, parent support, and friend support. Psychosocial outcomes were assessed at age 25 years: education, substance use, future orientation, depressive symptoms, and externalizing behaviors. Latent profile analysis results indicated that the sample could be characterized by three patterns of contextual risk: low contextual risk, high contextual risk, and high contextual risk–childhood trauma. Risk profiles were associated with psychosocial outcomes, with the childhood trauma and high-risk profiles faring worse than the low-risk profile. Further, childhood trauma was particularly predictive of worse outcomes for emerging adults. Findings highlight the need for research and prevention programs that mitigate the effects of contextual risks on psychosocial outcomes for African American emerging adults in rural areas.

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© The Author(s), 2020. Published by Cambridge University Press

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