Theses Doctoral

Does School Race/Ethnic Composition Impact Mental Health Outcomes?

DuPont-Reyes, Melissa Juliana

This dissertation evaluated what is known from the existing literature regarding the effect of race and ethnic composition in schools on adolescent mental health outcomes as well as provided new data in this area of research. The first dissertation Chapter presents the results of a systematic literature review of the current evidence to date regarding the effect of school race/ethnic composition on mental health outcomes in school-aged youth from Kindergarten through High School. Two empirical chapters that follow the first Chapter implemented new data that filled in knowledge gaps in the current evidence base. One empirical chapter, Chapter 2, tested if the main effect of school race/ethnic composition, measured as race/ethnic density and diversity, varied by student race/ethnicity. Chapter 2 also examined the point of convergence in rates of mental health symptom for youth of different race/ethnic groups as the race and ethnic distribution in the school changed. To examine this point, the predicted counts of depressive-anxious symptoms for each race/ethnic group across changes in school race/ethnic composition were plotted and discussed. Chapter 3, the second empirical chapter, examined if the impact of school race/ethnic composition on mental health outcomes varied by acculturative stress among youth identifying as Mexican/Chicano. Both empirical analyses were informed by the knowledge gaps that were identified in the systematic literature review in Chapter 1. Public health and policy implications of this dissertation research, including its literature review and empirical findings, are discussed.
The dissertation format first consists of a publishable systematic literature review of Specific Aim #1, presented as Chapter 1, that justifies the purpose for Specific Aim #2 and #3. Following Chapter 1, the dissertation presents two publishable research articles reflecting Specific Aim #2 and #3, presented as Chapters 2 and 3, respectively. Therefore, the specific aims are to:
1. Conduct a systematic literature review of school race/ethnic composition effects on mental health outcomes;
2. Controlling for school and student covariates, test school race/ethnic composition (e.g. race/ethnic density and diversity) on student mental health outcomes;
a. Test the interaction between school race/ethnic composition variables and student self-reported race/ethnicity;
3. Test for within Mexican/Chicano group differences of school race/ethnic composition (e.g. race/ethnic density and diversity) on student mental health outcomes by acculturative stress, controlling for school- and student-level covariates.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Thesis Advisors
Link, Bruce G
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
July 22, 2017