Reducing the Biological and Psychological Toxicity of Poverty-related Stress: Initial Efficacy of the BaSICS Intervention for Early Adolescents

Martha E. Wadsworth, Ashley McDonald, Celina M. Joos, Jarl A. Ahlkvist, Sarah E.D. Perzow, Emile M. Tilghman-Osborne, Kristine Creavey, Gina M. Brelsford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

This proof-of-concept study tests the initial efficacy of the Building a Strong Identity and Coping Skills (BaSICS) intervention, a selective prevention of internalizing problems program for early adolescents exposed to high levels of poverty-related stress. Eighty-four early adolescents (Mage = 11.36 years) residing in very low-income neighborhoods were randomized to receive the 16-session intervention (n = 44) or to an assessment-only control condition (n = 40). BaSICS teaches coping skills, social identity development, and collective social action to empower youth with the ability to connect with members of their communities and cope with poverty-related stress in positive and collaborative ways. Pretest–posttest analyses showed that intervention adolescents acquired problem-solving and cognitive-restructuring skills and reduced their reliance on avoidant coping. In addition, HPA reactivity was significantly reduced in the intervention youth, but not controls. Finally, intervention youth's internalizing and somatic symptoms as reported by both youth and their parents, showed significant reductions over time, whereas control youth had no such changes. Results provide strong support for this approach to strength-building and symptom reduction in a population of early adolescents exposed to poverty-related stress.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)305-319
Number of pages15
JournalAmerican Journal of Community Psychology
Volume65
Issue number3-4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • Applied Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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