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JOURNAL ARTICLE

Terrorism-related perceived stress, adolescent depression, and social support from friends

Golan Shahar, Guina Cohen, Kathryn E Grogan, John P Barile, Christopher C Henrich
Pediatrics 2009, 124 (2): e235-40
19596732

BACKGROUND: Terrorism leads to adolescent depression, but little is known about protective factors. We investigated 90 adolescents (in grades 7-9) residing in Dimona, Israel, before and after their exposure to a suicide bombing.

OBJECTIVE: To examine the prospective effect of social support from friends, parents, and school personnel on the link between bombing-related perceived stress and adolescent depression.

METHODS: Seven months prior to the suicide bombing, adolescents completed questionnaires as part of an ongoing investigation of youth risk/resilience under stress. The focus of the present study was on the Perceived Social Support Scale. One month subsequent to the suicide bombing, participants were interviewed by telephone about their bombing-related perceived stress (a 1-item measure) and depression (the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Child Depression Scale).

RESULTS: Bombing-related perceived stress was associated with an increase in continuous levels of depression from before to after the bombing (beta = .29; P = .006). Prebombing social support from friends buffered against this effect (beta = -.29; P = .010). Adolescents reporting high bombing-related perceived stress evinced an increase in depression if they reported low levels of friends' support (beta = .61; P < .001) but not high levels of friends' support (beta = .00; P = .98). In addition, social support from friends predicted an increase in adolescent depression over time when bombing-related perceived stress was low (beta = .34; P = .026).

CONCLUSION: In adolescence, social support from friends might protect against the depressogenic effect of terrorism-related perceived stress.

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