Comorbidity of internalizing and externalizing problems and its risk and protective factors have not been well incorporated into developmental research, especially among racial minority youth from high-poverty neighborhoods. The present study identified a latent comorbid factor as well as specific factors underlying internalizing and externalizing problems among 592 African American adolescents living in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods (291 male; M age = 15.9 years, SD = 1.43 years). Stressful life events and racial discrimination were associated with higher comorbid problems, whereas stressful life events and exposure to violence were associated with higher specific externalizing problems. Collective efficacy was associated with both lower specific externalizing problems and lower comorbid problems. Moreover, high collective efficacy buffered the risk effects of stressful life events and racial discrimination on comorbid problems. Our results demonstrated the advantages of latent variable modeling to understanding comorbidity by articulating impacts of risk factors on comorbid and specific components underlying internalizing and externalizing problems. They also highlighted the protective effect of collective efficacy in mitigating risks for these problems. These findings broadly call for more studies on comorbidities in developmental psychopathology among youth from diverse sociocultural backgrounds.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Psychiatry and Mental health