Family-Level Factors and African American Children’s Behavioral Health Outcomes: A Systematic Review

Tyreasa Washington, Theda Rose, Gia Colombo, Jun Sung Hong, Stephanie Irby Coard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Background: Considerable prior research targeting African American children has focused on the pervasiveness of problematic behavior and negative risk factors associated with their development, however the influence of family on better behavioral health outcomes has largely been ignored. Objective: The purpose of this review is to examine empirical studies that focus on the association between family-level factors (e.g., parenting practices, family functioning) and African American children’s behavioral health. Specifically, we examined the studies’ characteristics, the relationship between various family-level factors and behavioral health outcomes, and the extent to which these studies consider racial, ethnic, and/or cultural nuances and competencies. Methods: This review was guided by systematic review methods of Gough et al. (An introduction to systematic reviews. Sage, London, 2012) and Moher et al. (Preferred reporting items for systematic reviews and meta-analyses: the PRISMA statement. PLoS Med 6(6):e1000097, 2009). Thirty-five studies were included and assessed. Results: The majority of the studies’ samples were low-income, resided in female-headed households, and lived in urban areas. Parenting practices (66 % of studies) were by far the most frequently examined family-level factor associated with behavioral health outcomes. A few studies examined the moderating or mediating role of racial discrimination and/or racial socialization. Conclusion: Findings from this review can inform the development or adaptation of family-based interventions that can effectively promote better behavioral health and resiliency of African American children and adolescents.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)819-834
Number of pages16
JournalChild and Youth Care Forum
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015, Springer Science+Business Media New York.


  • Adolescents
  • African American children
  • Behavioral health
  • Family
  • Protective factors


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