Gender Differences in the Prevalence of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Problems Among Detained Juveniles in Idaho
Date of Final Oral Examination (Defense)
Type of Culminating Activity
Master of Health Science in Health Policy
Community and Environmental Health
Edward Baker, Ph.D.
Theodore W. McDonald, Ph.D.
Sandina Begic, Ph.D.
For the past 11 years, the Boise State University’s Center for Health Policy has partnered with the Idaho Department of Juvenile Corrections to analyze data on juveniles entering detention at 13 Juvenile Detention Centers in Idaho. The Alaska Screening Tool (AST) is used to screen juveniles who may or may not meet the criteria for having a mental health problem, substance abuse problem, or both types of problems. The current study explores prevalence rates and gender differences as indicated by the AST for fiscal years 2008-2017. Across nine years of data (fiscal years 2008-2017), on average, 61% of all detained youth met AST criteria for having a mental health problem, and 43% met the criteria for a substance abuse problem. On average, 72% of youth met AST criteria for having at least one problem (mental health only, substance abuse only, or both). Girls (77%) were more likely to meet AST criteria for any type of problem (i.e. a mental health problem only, a substance abuse problem only, or both types of problems) than boys (70%). There was a significant association between gender and meeting AST criteria for any type of problem, χ2 (1, N=12,384) = 54.19, p < 0.0005. Girls (70%) were statistically significantly more likely than boys (58%) to meet AST criteria for a mental health problem, χ2 (1, N = 12,384) = 164.81, p < 0.0005. Girls (42%) were slightly less likely than boys (43%) to meet AST criteria for a substance abuse problem, although this difference was not statistically significant, χ2 (1, N=12,384) = 0.952, p = 0.359. These findings indicate that efforts to address these problems while youth are in detention and upon their release back in to the community are important in the rehabilitation of justice-involved youth. Girls are especially in need of community-based services due to their higher prevalence rates of mental health problems than boys.
Marshall, Jessica, "Gender Differences in the Prevalence of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Problems Among Detained Juveniles in Idaho" (2019). Boise State University Theses and Dissertations. 1557.