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A comparison study of depression, daily hassles, and social support in adolescents with and without intellectual disabilities VandeKamp, Karen J. Ott

Abstract

This study examined depression, social support, and daily hassles in a school-based sample of 50 adolescents with mild to moderate intellectual disabilities (27 males, 23 females) and an age- and gender-matched group of 50 adolescents without intellectual disabilities. They included students in grades 8 to 12, ages 13 to 19 years. Data were collected at 14 secondary schools in 3 school districts in the Greater Vancouver Regional District of British Columbia, Canada. Depressed mood, daily hassles, and perceived social support were assessed using 3 selfreport measures: the Reynolds Adolescent Depression Scale (RADS; Reynolds, 1986a), Adolescent Hassles Inventory (AHI; Reynolds & Waltz, 1984a, 1988), and Adolescent Support Inventory (ASI; Reynolds & Waltz, 1984b, 1988), respectively. Adolescents with intellectual disabilities were compared to their peers without intellectual disabilities on total mean scores for the 3 measures. Males and females were also examined separately for each question. Results of t-tests and 2 x 2 ANOVAs indicated that adolescents with intellectual disabilities endorsed a significantly higher level of depressive symptomatology than their peers without intellectual disabilities (g < .05). Gender differences were also found, with females evidencing greater depression scores in both groups (p < .05). Also, males with intellectual disabilities reported a significantly lower level of perceived social support than their samegender peers without intellectual disabilities (p < .05). No group or gender differences were found in amount of reported daily hassles. Results of bivariate correlations suggested a positive relationship between depressed mood and daily hassles, as well as a negative relationship between depressed mood and perceived social support for both adolescents with and without intellectual disabilities. No significant differences in these relationships were noted for either group or gender. The evidence presented in this study highlights the need for socio-environmental variables such as perceived social support to be considered key factors associated with depressed mood in adolescents with intellectual disabilities. Future investigations should employ prospective or longitudinal study designs to allow for an examination of directionality and/or buffering effects in the relationships among life stress, social support, and depressed mood. Previous research that have employed these methods with adolescents without intellectual disabilities have contributed greatly to our understanding of depression in adolescence. Corresponding research for adolescents with intellectual disabilities is warranted to identify some of the underlying factors causing or exacerbating depression, and to develop improved methods of supporting these individuals through prevention and intervention programs.

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