Abstract Purpose: The purpose of this study was to explore the relationships of family history of depression and alcohol abuse as a predictor of health risk behaviors among Central American teenagers.
Data sources: Demographic data were collected from a convenience sample of 101 Central American mothers with a teenage daughter ages 12–17 years who were living in Northern Virginia. The research questions assessed the family history of depression, alcohol abuse, and maternal depression. Scores were calculated to predict risk of teenage health risk behaviors.
Conclusions: The Hispanic mothers in this study reported that their teenagers had significant health risk behaviors, including school dropout and expulsion, alcohol and substance use, pregnancy, and gang membership. Family history of depression and alcohol abuse in a first degree relative predicted teenage risk behavior 71% of the time.
Clinical Implications: There is no consensus on a standard screening approach for depression in teenagers. Developing a standardized approach to gathering information from teenagers that includes genetic family traits may have significant effects on interventions for teenage health risk behavior and ways to provide the best services for vulnerable teenagers. The results of this study have implications for nurse practitioners caring for teenagers.