Depressive symptoms in adolescents living in rural America

Ann R. Peden, Deborah B. Reed, Mary Kay Rayens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Purpose: The purposes of this pilot study were to examine prevalence of depressive symptoms among rural adolescents and identify related social and environmental variables. Methods: A convenience sample of 299 14- to 18-year-old agriculture class students at 5 rural high schools in Kentucky and Iowa completed a survey that included demographic information, family farm history, experience with suicide, perception of school environment, and indicators of farm injuries and risky behaviors. Participants also completed the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D) as well as scales to assess the number of major life events in the last year, active coping use, and family closeness. Findings: The prevalence of a high level of depressive symptoms (CES-D ≥ 16) in this sample was 34%. Nine percent had seriously considered suicide in the last year. Unlike previous reports, boys reported as many depressive symptoms as girls. Although the literature reports that engaging in risky behavior is associated with depressive symptoms, the only risky behavior linked with depressive symptoms in this sample was operating a 4-wheel all-terrain vehicle. Other predictors of depressive symptoms included poor family relationships and poor active coping. Conclusions: Interventions to identify and prevent depressive symptoms in rural adolescents are needed. Boosting active coping and improving family function may also prevent the development of clinical depression in rural adolescents.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)310-316
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Rural Health
Issue number4
StatePublished - Sep 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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