Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Psychology


Clinical Psychology

Content Description

1 online resource (iii, 96 pages) : illustrations.

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Hazel M Prelow

Committee Members

James F Boswell, Drew A Anderson


Adolescent, Criminal, Mental Health, Offenders, Structural Equation Modeling, Substance Use, Juvenile delinquents, Structural equation modeling, Longitudinal method

Subject Categories

Clinical Psychology | Criminology | Developmental Psychology


Mental health problems, including substance use problems, are more prevalent among adolescent criminal offenders than among the general population and are associated with an elevated risk of re-offending. It is important to understand what factors are associated with serious adolescent offenders’ future mental health and re-offending outcomes to promote their positive development. This study examined potential mechanisms behind established relationships between risk factors for mental health and criminal offending and psychosocial outcomes while integrating ecological theory and a risk and protective framework. To do this, a mediation model was examined using structural equation modeling in which contextual risk was hypothesized to have an indirect effect on psychosocial functioning through promotive factors. The sample consisted of 417 African American and 200 European American adolescents aged 14 to 17 who participated in the Pathways to Desistance Study and used 3 waves of data at the following time-points: baseline, 36-month follow-up and 72-month follow-up. Results showed that neither the measurement model nor the full structural models provided a good fit for the data. The latent factors Contextual Risk and Promotive Factors were correlated among African American adolescents but not among European American adolescents. These findings further our understanding of risk factors associated with mental health and re-offending outcomes among serious adolescent offenders and have important implications for potential ethnic differences, interventions and future research.