Objective: To examine racial and ethnic differences in moderate to severe depressive symptoms among young women seeking reproductive health care.
Methods: Nine hundred four white, black, or Hispanic women between 14 and 26 years of age completed an anonymous questionnaire that assessed demographic and reproductive characteristics; recent substance use, including binge drinking; sexual behaviors; occurrence of assault; and depressive symptoms. Logistic regression analysis was used to develop adjusted odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals for correlates of depressive symptomatology for each racial or ethnic group.
Results: Twenty-one percent (68 of 321) of whites, 28% (88 of 316) of blacks, and 29% (77 of 267) of Hispanics reported moderate to severe depressive symptoms. White females with moderate to severe depressive symptoms were more likely to report sexual assault (OR = 3.1); being a high school dropout (OR = 2.6); unemployment (OR = 2.4); two or more episodes of binge drinking (OR = 2.1); and having a mother with less than a high school education (OR = 2.4). Black females with depressive symptoms were more likely to report smoking one to nine cigarettes per day (OR = 3.5); sexual assault (OR = 3.2); and unemployment (OR = 2.1). Hispanic females with depressive symptoms were more likely to report adolescent age (OR = 3.5); physical assault (OR = 3.2); and smoking one or more cigarettes per day (OR = 2.4).
Conclusion: Twenty to 25% of young women, regardless of race or ethnicity, have moderate to severe depressive symptoms, and behavioral markers vary according to ethnicity.