This study examined the influence of peers in meeting DSM-IV symptom criteria for an internalizing disorder in adolescents exposed to Hurricane Georges. Participants included a representative community sample of 905 youth (N = 476 boys) ages 11-17 residing in Puerto Rico. Data were gathered on hurricane exposure, symptoms of internalizing disorders, peer social support, peer violence, and peer substance use through in-person structured interviews with adolescents and caretakers from 1999-2000 in Puerto Rico, 12-27 months after Hurricane Georges. Hurricane exposure, peer violence, and peer substance use predicted whether adolescents met DSM-IV symptom criteria for a measured internalizing disorder. An interaction was found between hurricane exposure and peer violence, which indicated that hurricane exposure was significantly related to meeting DSM-IV symptom criteria for an internalizing disorder among adolescents who do not report associating with violent peers. However, for participants who reported high levels of peer violence, hurricane exposure did not convey additional risk for meeting DSM-IV symptom criteria for an internalizing disorder. With the increasing role peers play in adolescents’ lives, understanding the influence of peers on the development of internalizing symptoms following hurricane exposure may assist in planning developmentally sensitive response plans.
Rubens, Sonia L. et al. “Peer Deviance, Social Support, and Symptoms of Internalizing Disorders among Youth Exposed to Hurricane Georges.” Psychiatry 76.2 (2013): 169–181.