DOI: 10.1002/nur.22379 ISSN: 0160-6891

Discrimination, cognitive styles, and their associations with adolescents' mental and physical health

Catherine L. Biesecker, Patrick Pössel, Rafael Fernandez‐Botran
  • General Nursing


This study is based on the hopelessness theory of depression and previous research on perceived everyday discrimination (PED) and both depressive symptoms and Interleukin‐6 (an inflammatory cytokine; IL‐6) in adolescents. The purpose of this study is to examine the negative attribution, self, and consequence cognitive styles (CSs) proposed in the hopelessness theory as a possible mechanism underlying the association between PED and inflammation in adolescents and expand our understanding of the comorbidities between depressive symptoms and systemic inflammation (IL‐6). This cross‐sectional study featured a sample of 102 adolescents aged 13–16 (M = 14.10, SD = 0.52) who identified as White (47.5%), Black (41.4%), Mixed Race (7.1%), Latino (2%), and other (2%). Data analysis was conducted using PROCESS to compute regressions and effects between PED, negative CSs, depressive symptoms, and Interleukin‐6. Results showed that negative attribution CS is the only negative CS associated with PED, depressive symptoms, and IL‐6. Negative attribution CS is also the only negative CS of the three negative CSs that mediates both the association between PED and depressive symptoms and PED and IL‐6 in our adolescent sample. Overall, these results indicate that individual negative CSs proposed in the hopelessness theory impact adolescents' physical and mental outcomes differently, which can inform targeted treatments. Nurses should provide cognitive‐based interventions and promote societal‐level change to reduce the experience and impact of PED on the mental and physical health of their adolescent patients.

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