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                                     LITERATURE REVIEW


       This chapter reviews the literature on depressive symptoms, problem behaviors and their

psychosocial correlates in youth, in order to provide a scholarly backdrop to the present study: in

this study YUUFs are viewed as a subset of youth, specifically male, urban youth of color. The

chapter is organized into a review of developmental-ecological theory, the concept of psychosocial

domains, and how these perspectives fit with the current study. Literature on depressive symptoms

and problem behaviors in youth in general are reviewed with reference to how it pertains to young

fathers. The next section examines the literature on the psychosocial domains of

sociodemographics, coping, family factors, peers and non-parental adults, living environment, and

how they relate to depressive symptoms and problem behaviors in youth. The final domain

inspected is fathering factors where literature relating to psychological and behavioral functioning

is described.

       The population of young fathers is complex and in many aspects unstudied. Because use of

multiple perspectives is helpful for accurately understanding issues pertaining to the prevalence

and severity of depressive symptoms and behavior problems, a developmental-ecological

framework was chosen as the underpinning for this research. The theory provides an opportunity to

examine populations within and across domains.

                         Developmental-ecological theoretical framework

       Developmental-ecological theory highlights the transactional nature of biological,

psychological, social, and cultural systems. The theory states that the process of human

development occurs in a context and that this context in turn, affects and is affected by human

development, creating a constant feedback loop. (See Garbarino, 1990; Gilgun, 1996; Shinn &

Toohey, 2003). This theory is helpful for understanding problem behaviors and depressive

symptoms in YUUFs because it takes into account the developmental stage of adolescence and

movement towards young adulthood, the parenting role, the stresses and strengths of the

environment, and cultural and social influences. Adolescence is a period of tremendous cognitive,

emotional, social, and physical growth and development. The development of self-regulation skills

such as emotional regulation, effortful control, organization and planning are essential (Buckner,

Mezzacappa, & Beardslee, 2003): healthy resolution of adolescent challenges affects the quality of

life an individual will lead as an adult. Early fatherhood can affect the natural developmental

trajectory of a youth, creating stress, depression and increased or different problem behaviors

which in turn can compromise parenting ability.

                    The emerging concept of “domains” in adolescent development

        Much of the current research on psychological health and psychosocial outcomes of youth

uses developmental-ecological theory and views symptoms and behaviors as occurring within

multiple contexts and across developmental stages. (Beam, et al., 2002; Dubois, Feiner, Brand, &

George, 1999; Wachs, 2000). In order to be able to study these multiple influences and contexts,

researchers have separated youths’ contextual environment into domains and examined the relative

contribution of each domain. Domains studied, as they relate to depressive symptoms and problem

behaviors, often include peers, family, school, and coping (Beam, et al, 2002; Chang, 2001;

Dubois, Feiner, Brand, Phillips, & Lease, 1996; Gonzales, Tein, Sandler, & Friedman, 2001). The

outcomes for youth in each domain are differentially correlated with demographics such as gender,

ethnicity, socioeconomic status (SES), and living environment (urban/rural/suburban).

Consequently findings are complex and varied and reflect the multidimensional nature of

contextual and sociodemographic influences on depressive symptoms and problem behaviors.

Contextual theory has been used to explain aspects of fathering (Doherty, et al., 1996; Marsiglio,

1995), thus using a similar framework to examine depressive symptoms and problem behaviors in

YUUFs is consistent with previous theoretical literature on fathering.

       Developmental-ecological theory has been used not only to look at risk factors but also to

examine protective factors. Protective factors are thought to diminish the likelihood of negative

outcomes in high risk situations, but not to affect developmental outcomes in situations of low risk

(Compas, et al., 1995). Although protective factors are not the primary focus of this study, they are

relevant in terms of depressive symptoms and behavior problems. Therefore, coping capacity, one

psychological characteristic that can be protective, was measured; coping skills can affect the

ability to weather negative experiences and take advantage of opportunities in the face of


       The categories highlighted below include sociodemographics (gender, ethnicity,

socioeconomic status, and age), and the domains of coping, family factors, non-familial social

influences (peers and adults), and living environment. These categories and domains have been

found to be correlated with depressive symptoms and problem behaviors (Beam, et al, 2002;

Chang, 2001; Dubois, et al., 1999; Gonzales, et al., 2001, Lewis & Frydenberg, 2002). The domain

of fathering factors is the last to be discussed. Reviewing the literature will emphasize the

multidimensional nature of contextual and sociodemographic influences on depressive symptoms

and problem behaviors in YUUFs.

                          Depressive symptoms and problem behaviors

                               Adolescent depression in the United States

       Depression is documented to be a serious and pervasive problem for youth in the U.S.

Birmaher, et al. (1996) reported that prevalence rates of depression in adolescents ranged between

0.4% and 8.3%. The researchers further noted that the lifetime prevalence of Major Depressive

Disorder (MDD) in teens was approximated to be between 15% and 20%. Longitudinal studies

have noted that there are serious negative psychosocial outcomes associated with adolescent

depression, such as poor academic achievement, substance abuse, and suicide (Fergusson &

Woodward, 2002), and there is a greater likelihood that depression will continue into adulthood

(Birmaher, et al.; Lewinsohn, Rohde, Klein, & Seeley, 1999; Lewinsohn, Rohde, Seeley, Klein, &

Gotlib, 2000). Additional longitudinal studies have demonstrated that certain early experiences

impact later depressive symptoms in youth (Frost, Reinherz, Pakiz-Camras, Giaconia, &

Lefkowitz, 1999).

                           Adolescent problem behavior in the United States

       The definition of problem behavior in adolescents has included school problems, early

substance abuse, delinquency, and early sexual behavior (Duckworth, Hale, Clair, & Adams, 2000;

Fagan & Pabon, 1990; Kirby & Coyle, 1997; Perez McCluskey, et al., 2002). Researchers have

demonstrated that these behaviors often occur as a cluster. Longitudinal studies have shown that

the behaviors appear to be linked with earlier and current characteristics such as low peer

acceptance, stressful interpersonal events, early childhood aggression, poor academic achievement,

low parental education, and living in a single parent family (Perez McCluskey, et al.). Level of

problem behaviors varies by gender, ethnicity, neighborhood, etc. with “at-risk” youth engaging in

more of these behaviors than their peers (C. Smith, et al., 1995; Werner & R. Smith, 1982).

                    Co-occurrence of depressive symptoms and problem behaviors

       The co-occurrence of depressive symptoms and problem behaviors in youth is common

(Beam, et al., 2002; Marmorstein, 2001; Reinherz, et al., 1993; Seigel, Aneshenel, Taub, Cantwell,

& Driscolls, 1998). Co-occurrence of symptoms and behaviors has been shown to vary with

demographic and psychiatric characteristics, representing a greater vulnerability for certain

population groups. For example in a longitudinal, community sample, adolescents with the

diagnosis of MDD had higher levels of problem behaviors than did normal controls (Lewinson, et

al., 1999). Samaan (2000) notes that poverty is associated with increased levels of both depression

and problem behaviors for children. However, when socioeconomic status is controlled Whites

have a higher prevalence of depression and problem behaviors than do African Americans, Native

Americans, or Latinos. Studies examining the equal co-occurrence of problem behavior and

depressive symptoms in males and females show varied results. One study reported that a positive

association between depressive symptoms and problem behaviors existed only for girls (Herrera,

2002), whereas another study found no difference between males and females (Dubois, et al.,

1999). (This topic will be discussed further below).

       It is illuminating, both practically and theoretically, to see how depressive symptoms and

problem behaviors vary in YUUFs. Male youth involved in pregnancies are reported to engage in

riskier activities than their noninvolved counterparts (Resnick, Chambliss, & Blum, 1993;

Spingarn & DuRant, 1996) and researchers and practitioners suggest that YUUFs suffer from

depressive symptoms (Achatz & MacAllum, 1994; Elster & Panzarine, 1980; Kiselica, et al.,

1994). Unfortunately having both depressive symptoms and behavior problems may magnify risk

for individuals. One study demonstrated that youth who report both depressive symptoms and

problem behaviors engage in riskier behaviors than youth who have just one of these disorders

(Marmorstein, 2001). Studying co-occurrence is essential as some literature has suggested that

problem behaviors are an external presentation of depression in males (Pollack, 1998; Real, 1997).



Ethnic differences in depressive symptoms and problem behaviors

       Ethnicity is an important social and cultural factor that, when employing a developmental-

ecological framework, appears to have multiple influences on the presence of depressive

symptoms and problem behaviors. For example, ethnicity has been found to be related to poverty

level, living environment, and family structure: it is important to note that as one demographic is

controlled, the influence of ethnicity on depressive symptoms and problem behaviors may change.

In one study that looked at how ethnicity and poverty affected depressive symptoms, Whites who

lived below the poverty line reported higher levels of depressive symptoms than Whites who were

not poor. This finding was not true for African Americans, Latinos, or Asians, whose depressive

symptoms remained stable regardless of income (Seigel, et al. 1998). This study also showed that

Latinos reported more depressive symptoms than other ethnicities even when controlling for

income. Similarly, studies regarding how certain family variables affect problem behaviors are

influenced by the family’s ethnicity. For example, C. Smith and Krohn (1995) found that the

family variable of “father absence” affected Latino males’ behavior more negatively than it did

Caucasians or African Americans. The family variables of parental attachment and control reduced

delinquency in Caucasians and African Americans, but not in Latinos. Smith and Krohn also found

that economic hardship negatively affected family life for all ethnicities and consequently

increased delinquency. It becomes clear through the research, and using the framework of

developmental-ecological theory, that one of the factors that makes studying the effects of

ethnicity on depressive symptoms and problem behaviors confusing is that many non-white

populations often reside in low SES, geographically isolated areas; populations living in

disadvantaged neighborhoods experience more crime, adolescent delinquency, social and physical

problems, school dropout, and child abuse and neglect (Sampson, et al., 2002). Because of these

confounding factors regarding the relationship of ethnicity with depressive symptoms and problem

behaviors, it becomes important to review the literature on neighborhood effects. Please see review

under heading “Domain of community/ living environment.”

Gender differences in depressive symptoms and problem behaviors

       Current research highlights differences of depressive symptomology in males and females.

Females are more likely than males to report depressive symptomology (Beam et al., 2002;

Reinherz, et al., 1993). In one longitudinal study of a non-clinical sample, 9.4% of the participants

were diagnosed with major depression at 18; girls were three times more likely than boys to fall

into this group (Reinherz, et al.). One study examined gender differences in a large sample of

college students and found no difference between levels of depressive symptoms, but did find

differences in patterns of symptom depression, particularly for the students with high levels of

depression (Hammen & Padesky, 1977). A cross sectional study used a large non-clinical sample

and inspected the relationship between depressive symptoms and gender by age and pubertal

development. There were no differences between depressive symptoms in early adolescent girls

and boys. However, middle and older adolescent girls reported significantly more depressive

symptoms than their male counterparts (Seigel, et al, 1998), suggesting that a gender effect may be

mediated by developmental stage.

       Studies show that more boys than girls are diagnosed with problem behavior (Herrera,

2002). Other studies found that although gender was initially associated with problem behavior,

whether or not the peer group approved of this behavior ultimately accounted for this gender effect

(Beam et al., 2002). This is important for studying young urban males, as it is likely that an urban

environment, depressed economics, and quality of opportunities available can negatively shape

peer activities and sanctions.

       The equal co-occurrence of problem behavior and depressive symptoms in males and

females is still being investigated. One study reported that a positive association between

depressive symptoms and problem behaviors existed only for girls (Herrera, 2002). A longitudinal

study, that employed the developmental-ecological concept of looking at youth across and within

domains, examined correlates of youth who had both conduct disorder and depressive symptoms.

This study found no difference between males and females; some of the correlates studied were in

the domains of family, functioning, and personality (Dubois, et al., 1999). A cross sectional study

identified a different impact of violence for males and females. African American boys residing in

the inner-city who were victims were more likely to exhibit delinquent behavior while their female

peers who were exposed to violence were more likely to experience symptoms of Post Traumatic

Stress Disorder (PTSD) (Mcgee, Davis, Brisbane, Collins, Nuriddin, Irving, Mutakabbir, &

Martin, 2001). It is important to note that boys in this study experienced victimization more often

than girls, whereas girls were more likely to witness violence.

       Examining why some individuals do better despite similar adverse circumstances is

essential in studying depressive symptoms and problem behaviors. Coping is an important

psychological concept that has been shown to be closely linked with depressive symptoms and

problem behaviors (Gonzales, et al., 2001; Okech & Harrington, 2002; Werner, 1992).

                                Psychological health: coping ability

Relationship between depressive symptoms, problem behaviors and coping:

       Lewis and Frydenberg (2002) define coping as “behaviors and actions which arise in

response to demands placed upon an individual” (p. 419). Studies have shown that varied

coping styles and flexibility of use are related to better psychological, behavioral, and health

outcomes in youth (Gonzales, et al., 2001; Lewis & Frydenberg; Steiner, Erickson,

Hernandez, & Pavelski, 2002). Specifically, ability to cope with adversity diminishes

depressive symptoms and problem behaviors (Gonzales, et al.; Okech & Harrington, 2002).

Coping is particularly important during key developmental and life transitions that may

induce more stress (e.g. adolescence and new parenthood). Consequently, the ability to cope

has significant implications for youth such as young fathers, who are struggling not only with

adolescent and parenting issues, but also with high levels of environmental and social stress.

       Many researchers have used an “approach/avoidance” model to study coping (Gonzales, et

al., 2001; Scott & House, 2005). An approach coping strategy is defined as paying direct attention

to the problem; an avoidance approach is defined as directing one’s attention away from the

problem. Researchers have acknowledged that the helpfulness of a coping style depends on the

situation and that the choice of strategy is influenced by one’s appraisal of the situation. Studies

have identified a correlation between an approach strategy and fewer depressive symptoms and

behavior problems (Holahan & Moos, 1991; Scott & House, 2005). The results of a large, cross

sectional study by Steiner et al. (2002) demonstrated comparable findings. However, the research

also showed that while avoidance style was related to more health problems and risk behaviors, its

effect was ameliorated by the concurrent presence of approach style within the individual. This

study may have limited generalizability as the population used was mainly white and upper middle


         Other studies, using more diverse samples, have found different relationships

between coping styles and depressive symptoms and behavior problems (Gonzales, et al

2001; Lewis & Frydenberg, 2002). Gonzales, et al. examined the relationships between

styles of coping, mental health, behavior problems, sociodemographics, and living

environments within and across domains. The researchers observed the relationship between

depressive symptoms, conduct problems, academic achievement, and coping styles in a

multiethnic sample of 12-15 year olds. The results showed no significant differences across

ethnicities. However, there were significant differences between genders. For instance, active

coping in the presence of a high level of peer and community stress increased depressive

symptoms in males. Conduct problems were mediated by level of family stress and avoidant

coping style; of note, a high level of family stress and avoidant coping style were linked with

fewer conduct problems. However, a low level of family stress and avoidant coping style

meant more conduct problems. This study suggests that the relationship between conduct

problems, depressive symptoms and coping style is mediated by gender and flexibility in the

use of coping styles. Relevant to this research with young fathers is Gonzales, et al.’s finding

that avoidant coping was significantly associated with fewer depressive symptoms and

behavior problems in the presence of certain kinds and amounts of stress; the aforementioned

stress is similar to types and levels of stress faced by young fathers. For example, many

young fathers live in poverty and poverty is known to increase family stress.

Solitary versus connection related coping strategies

       Some literature describes how men resist sharing difficult feelings; society sees

expressing emotion as a feminine not a masculine characteristic (Pollack, 1998; Real, 1997).

Men who have difficult feelings and do not share them can (1) become or remain depressed

and (2) express their pain through externalizing behaviors (Real). The author of this present

study, both a researcher and a clinician, has observed that young, urban fathers tend to use

more solitary strategies which may not be helpful for their growth and development and may

not allow them to build social capital.

    Family: How family factors influence risk of depressive symptoms and problem behaviors

       The relationship between depressive symptoms and problem behaviors and family

factors in youth is well documented (Beam, et al., 2002; Marmorstein, 2001; Reinherz, et al.,

1993; Rivera, Guarniccia, Mulvaney-Day, Lin, Torres, & Allegria, 2008; Seigel et al., 1998).

Some specific factors studied include family conflict/cohesion, parental warmth, parental

characteristics (e.g. history of depression/substance abuse in parents and parental education),

and family loss issues (e.g. loss of parent, father absence, and changes in family structure).

Using a developmental-ecological framework, outcomes can be understood to be mediated

by influences from other contexts and sociodemographic characteristics.

Family factors and depressive symptoms

       Using a longitudinal design and a community sample, Reinherz, et al., (1993) examined the

relationship between family conflict and the development of major depressive disorder (MDD) by

18 years old. The sample was mostly White and lower or working class. The findings showed that

the influence of family conflict on MDD in 18 year olds was mediated by gender. In this study

significantly more males who had MDD at 18 years old reported an intensification of family

arguments and violence between the ages of 10 and 15 years old. Parental warmth, another key

family characteristic, has been correlated with reduced depressive symptoms. In their study on

depressive symptoms and problem behaviors, Beam, et al., (2002) reported this association was not

significantly mediated by the influences from other contexts.

       Some parental characteristics appear to influence depressive symptoms in youth.

Depressive symptoms reported to exist in their parents by youth appeared to increase depressive

symptoms in girls but not boys (Beam, et al., 2002). Parental educational level has been strongly

associated with depressive symptoms in youth (Seigel, et al., 1998). Studying a multiethnic

sample, Seigel, et al. reported that youth whose parents had less than high school education were

significantly more likely to have higher levels of depressive symptoms. Family losses and changes

influenced depressive symptoms as well. Reinherz et al. (1993) reported that developing MDD at

18 years old was significantly related to loss of a parent before the age of 15 for females but not

males. However, higher depressive symptoms in males were related to the remarriage of a parent.

Family factors and problem behaviors

       Family factors also affected problem behaviors. Parents’ disapproval of the youths’

problem behaviors reduced misconduct by the youth, but this effect was mediated by peer

and nonfamilial adult social support, that is if the peer group sanctioned misconduct, youth

were more likely misbehave (Beam, et al., 2002). This result points to the importance of

using developmental-ecological theory and looking at effects both within domains as well as

across domains. C. Smith and Krohn (1995) conducted a study particularly relevant to this

YUUF study because their sample is similar to the profile of young urban fathers. These

authors designed a longitudinal study of high risk, urban males of color. Smith and Krohn’s

study, using the concept of looking across and within domains, examined how family

processes influenced delinquent behavior among these youth. Specifically they looked at the

relative contribution of family involvement, attachment, and control to delinquency in the

youths. The results showed a large indirect effect of poverty on delinquent behavior:

economic hardship had a significant impact on family processes and ultimately indirectly

created less attachment and less parental supervision. Poverty was more significant than

being raised in a single parent home in relation to delinquent behavior. A study by Duncan,

Strycker, Duncan, & Hayrettin (2002) partially supported this finding: They found that

neighborhood desirability influenced family conflict and individual levels of family deviance

and that family conflict was related to individual levels of deviance.

       These studies help construct a profile of male youth who suffer from depressive symptoms

and problem behaviors. Young urban fathers have similar demographic profiles to the

aforementioned youth; many are poor, of color, and come from single parent families for example.

It is logical to use these studies to construct a framework within which to examine young fathers.

Longitudinal designs offer important information about gender, ethnic, sociodemographic and

psychological specific antecedents to a diagnosis of depressive symptoms and problem behaviors.

Limitations to some of the studies are that samples are mainly White, childless and consequently

may not be generalizable to parenting populations of color.

    Peers and nonfamilial adults: how they influence risk of depressive symptoms and problem

       Peers and significant nonfamilial adults (Very Important Persons or VIPs) influence

depressive symptoms and problem behaviors. Beam, et al., (2002) report that perceiving peers and

adults as sanctioning misconduct increased problem behavior, especially for male youth.

Conversely, having at least one positive VIP decreased problem behavior even if the peer group

was sanctioning it (Beam, et al.). Being female and perceiving peers as having depressive

symptoms increased the likelihood of these same symptoms.

       Another factor that appears to be related to depressive symptoms is having relationship

difficulties with significant others. Williamson, Birmaher, Frank, Anderson, Matty, and Kupfer

(1998) describe this stressor as a precursor to a depressive event. This could be particularly

relevant for young fathers, as the relationship with the child’s mother is one of life-long co-

parenting, not just partnering. In addition, the quality of this relationship appears to be related to

the father’s access to his child which may then affect the father’s depressive symptoms (Sherry, et

al., 2001).

 Community /living environment: How does an urban environment influence depressive symptoms
                                  and problem behaviors?

        Studies propose that the pervasive and persistent conditions that exist in inner-cities, such

as exposure to violence, poverty, and crime, increase risk of depressive symptoms and problem

behaviors (Duckworth, et al., 2000; McGee, et al., 2001; Sampson, et al., 2002; Seigel, et al., 1998;

P. Smith, et al., 2001). There is evidence that black adolescent males living in urban areas engage

in risky behaviors and experience depressive symptoms (although this is much less documented).

McGee et al. studied a sample of 306 African American adolescents who resided in the inner-city

and found that 97% reported having been exposed to violence. The males in this group reported

higher rates of delinquent behavior and poorer academic achievement than their counterparts.

Another study reported that out of 247 black male youth, utilizing an inner-city health clinic, the

average age of first intercourse was 12 years old. Nineteen percent had been involved in a

pregnancy, and 23 % had a past history of a sexually transmitted disease (Wilson, Kastinakis,

D’Angelo, & Getson, 1994). P. Smith, et al. examined mental health problems and symptoms in a

non-clinical sample of poor, multiethnic, inner-city male youth. Of this sample 61% did not

graduate high school and 28% were fathers or expecting. These youth reported high levels of

relationship and money problems and intense feelings of anger, sadness and aggression. The

samples these studies used are close in profile to young fathers or actually are young fathers, and

offer preliminary demographic and emotional baselines for this population.

             Fathering factors: stressors unique to young fatherhood in the U.S

       Young fathers fall into several aforementioned categories that increase their risk for

depressive symptoms and problem behaviors. They are in the midst of a transition from

adolescence to adulthood and are also thrust into an adult role prematurely by their early parenting

status. Many young fathers are poor, uneducated, and non-white (Landry and Forrest, 1995;

McLanahan, et al., 2003; Sorensen, 1999), a profile that is linked to negative psychosocial

outcomes. Early fatherhood has been associated with a number of negative antecedents and

consequences for young men. The studies show that these youth experience more social,

educational, and economic difficulties both before a pregnancy and after a birth than their childless

counterparts (Lindberg, et al., 1997; Marsiglio, 1995; Rivara, et al., 1986; Spingarn & DuRant,

1996; Stouthamer-Loeber & Wei, 1998).

       Particular factors and situations that young, unwed fathers face may be related to high

levels of depressive symptoms and problem behaviors in this population. These situations include

the lack of paternal rights when a child is born out-of-wedlock; being unemployed and unable to

contribute financially (National Center for Children in Poverty, 1997); not understanding the

welfare and child support system, owing money, or having wages seized by this system (Sherry, et

al., 2001; Sorenson, 1999), not having physical access to the child, and having a conflictual

relationship with the mother of the child.

       Some studies found that young fathers have difficulty coping with stressful situations and

tolerating difficult feelings (Achatz & MacAllum, 1994; Elster & Panzarine, 1980). For example,

Achatz and MacAllum (1994) reported on ethnographic interviews with 47 young, low-income,

unwed fathers. Eighty-nine percent of the sample was Black. Data were gathered on various

components of their lives but not specifically on depressive symptoms. “Many” participants

described chronic depressive symptoms (p.23). When this sample was asked about their reactions

to the pregnancy, they described feeling depressed, guilty, uncertain, inadequate, and that they

were isolating themselves from others. The fathers described trying to come to terms with this life

change by trying to find work and becoming involved in the pregnancy. However, they frequently

described obstacles to being able to accomplish these goals. This ethnographic study makes a good

start examining the mental health of young fathers. However, the focus of the study was not on

mental health so limited data were gathered. In addition, standardized measures were not used thus

generalizability is limited and comparability were not established.

       Elster & Panzarine (1980) attempted to look at the effects of impending paternity of

16 teenaged expectant fathers. Ten of the fathers were Black, five were White, and one was

defined as “Spanish”. The researchers used both qualitative and quantitative methods to

examine the teens’ emotional needs. The study correlated ability to cope with the Offer Self-

Image Questionnaire scores. Poor coping was defined as “lack of acceptance of the

responsibilities associated with becoming a father, a lack of resolution of negative feelings

toward the pregnancy, and a deterioration of function in school, work, or interpersonal

relationships” (p. 117). There was a significant positive correlation between coping with the

pregnancy and Offer Self-Image scores. Six subjects were referred for counseling due to

“clinical depression.” This was a sound, early study on the emotional needs of young fathers.

The limitations included a small sample that decreased generalizability, and no precise

definition of “clinical depression.”

       There have been several papers written about depression and fathers using the Fragile

Families Child Wellbeing Study (FFCWS) data (Bronte-Tinkew, Moore, Matthews, & Carrano,

2007; McLanahan, Garfinkel, Brooks-Gunn, Zhao, Johnson, Rich, et al., 1998; Meadows, 2007).

The FFCWS used the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D) at baseline, and

then the Composite International Diagnostic Interview Short Form (CIDI-SF) in subsequent waves

of data collection to assess depression. The CIDI-SF can yield a diagnosis for Major Depressive

Episode as defined by the Diagnostic Statistical Manual- IV, (American Psychiatric Association,

1994). For additional measurement, the FFCWS asked questions about levels of substance use. At

baseline, 36% of the FFCWS sample scored as having 6 or more symptoms in the past week as

measured by the CES-D (McLanahan, et al.); Ten percent of the FFCWS sample scored as having

had a major depressive episode within the first year (Meadows). Meadows notes that some

limitations of the FFCWS data are that, although major depressive symptoms were measured

longitudinally, the CES-D, a more cross sectional measure was not. Collecting the CES-D

longitudinally as well, might have offered a different, richer, picture of FFCWS sample’s

depressive symptoms.

       The article, based on Families Child Wellbeing Study research, that is the most relevant to

this YUUF study, inspects the symptoms of major depression (as measured by the CIDI-SF) in

fathers with infants and how the depression correlates with sociodemographics and affects fathers’

involvement (Bronte-Tinkew, et al., 2007). The findings showed that symptoms of major

depression varied by race, marital, and employment status, but not by age or educational status.

Major depressive symptoms also varied significantly by amount of substance use and criminal

justice involvement. Fathers with major depression engaged in fewer parent child activities,

experienced more parenting stress, and had more difficult relationships with their children’s


       Finally, several authors describe young fathers’ interpersonal struggles with being

thrust into a new role, and battling society’s and their families’ negative reactions to the new

parenting situation. These authors highlight the need for mental health treatment to be

integrated into fathers’ programs (Barth, et al., 1988; Kiselica, et al., 1994).

                                  Summary of literature review

       This literature review provided an intellectual understanding of the research project

by delineating relevant theory and then reviewing literature on the major concepts studied.

Literature on youth and depressive symptoms, problem behaviors, their co-occurrence were

reviewed. Young urban unwed fathers are a complex, understudied subset of youth that

require use of a multicontexual theoretical base for meaningful understanding of the research.

Domains reviewed included sociodemographics, coping, family factors, non-familial social

contacts, and living environment. Finally literature pertaining to young fathers and

psychological and behavioral functioning was examined.

                                       Research focus

       Using a developmental-ecological model this study measured the severity and

prevalence of depressive symptoms and problem behaviors in YUUFs and correlated these

outcomes with key demographic and psychosocial information. A particular focus of the

study was to ascertain if and how much certain fathering factors contributed to depressive

symptoms and problem behaviors.