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EL ROL DE LA COMUNICACIÓN FAMILIAR Y DEL AJUSTE
ESCOLAR EN LA SALUD MENTAL DEL ADOLESCENTE

Estefanía Estévez López*, Gonzalo Musitu Ochoa*, Juan Herrero Olaizola**

SUMMARY
Family and school contexts play an especially important role on adolescent psychological adjustment. Previous research shows, for example, that a negative family environment characterized by communication problemsbetween parents and adolescents, is a risk factor for the development of children’s mental health problems, such as depressive symptoms, anxiety and stress. On the contrary, family communication based on respect and affection, has a positive effect on adolescent psychological adjustment. Regarding school context, there are also some factors which have been associated with psychological adjustmentproblems, like academic failure, low school self-esteem, or interpersonal problems with peers (e.g. victimization). In this sense, prior studies have reported that adolescents with low school self-esteem or who have been victimized at school show more depressive symptomatology and psychological stress. Nevertheless, although the empirical evidence has demonstrated that some family and school factorsdirectly influence adolescent psychological well-being, there are still some questions to answer to better understand relationships between these variables. For example, in relation to family communication, research has traditionally focused on communication with mother, while recent studies suggest that fathers and mothers may separately contribute to the explanation of some mental health problemsin children. Along this line, some authors have reported that adolescent psychological adjustment seems to be more closely associated to a father-child relationship based on affect and acceptance. Taking into account all these findings, the aim of the present study was to analyze the influence of family communication (with father and mother separately) and school adjustment (school selfesteem andvictimization problems) on adolescent’s mental health (psychological distress: depressive symptomatology and perceived stress). Participants: In the study participated 1068 adolescents ranging in age from 11 to 16 years old, of whom 84% lived with both father and mother at the time when the research was taking place. Since in the present study adolescent’s communication with father and mother isseparately analyzed, it was considered that the final sample should be composed of adolescents who live with both parents. The final sample consisted of 875 adolescents from four public schools in the Valencian Community (Spain), mean age 13.7 years old, and of whom 47% were male. Prior to data collection, parents and teachers were informed about the objectives of the study. The adolescents filledout the scales, anonymously, in their schools during a regular class period.

Measures and instruments were the following: Family communication, was measured using the 20-item Parent-Adolescent Communication Scale –PACS- from Barnes and Olson. The original scale shows a two-factor structure referring to degree of openness and extent of problems in family communication. However, we could notreplicate this factor structure in our data. Principal component analysis with varimax rotation yielded a three-factor structure for father and mother separately: openness in family communication (10 items), offensive communication with parents (6 items), and avoidant communication with parents (4 items). Cronbach’s reliability coefficients for these subscales were 0.87, 0.76 and 0.75 respectively.School self-esteem: was assessed using a 6-item School Self-Esteem Scale, adapted from a previous scale –AFA- from Musitu, García and Gutiérrez. This scale informs about the adolescent’s selfperception in relation to school and academic matters. Coefficient alpha in the present study was 0.86. Victimization: was measured using a 6-item Victimization Scale which evaluates the frequency with which...
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