Graduation Year


Document Type

Ed. Specalist



Degree Name

Education Specialist (Ed.S.)

Degree Granting Department

Curriculum and Instruction

Major Professor

Kathy Bradley-Klug, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Joshua Nadeau, Ph.D.

Committee Member

John Ferron, Ph.D.


mood disorders, behavioral activation


Major Depressive Disorder is a common mental health disorder, with studies suggesting its potential to lead to academic and social-emotional impairment in youth (Alegria, Vallas, & Pumariega, 2011). Although psychological treatments for this disorder have been studied for decades, prior to recent years little was known about the generalizability of treatment effectiveness to non-European samples (Bernal, Bonila, & Bellido, 1995; Bernal & Scharron-Del-Rio, 2001). Data suggest that racial/ethnic minority youth experience more severe depression when diagnosed with the disorder and are less likely to access mental health services. Behavior Activation (BA) is a treatment approach found to be effective for severe depressive symptoms, but there is a dearth in the literature showing its effectiveness with youth and racial/ethnic minorities (Dimijidan et al., 2006). Additionally, prior examinations of treatment effectiveness have largely focused on reductions in symptom severity and have excluded other aspects, such as quality of life (Krause, Bear, Edbrooke-Childs, & Wolpert, 2019). The current study examined the relationship between ethnicity, gender, and treatment outcomes for 409 adolescents (ages 13-21) who had undergone BA treatment at behavioral health clinics throughout the U.S. Treatment outcomes included depressive symptomology and quality of life following treatment. Additionally, the study examined the potential moderation of gender on the relationship between ethnicity and treatment outcomes. Preliminary analyses revealed that for the overall sample, levels of depressive symptomology and quality of life significantly improved after BA treatment. Multiple regression analyses testing for interactions were conducted to determine if the demographic variables of interest (i.e., ethnicity, race, and/or gender) predicted quality of life or depressive symptomology following treatment. Results suggested there were no significant differences between ethnic, racial, or gender groups for quality of life or depressive symptomology following treatment. However, when testing for interaction effects, African American/Black females had significantly higher depressive symptoms post-treatment. The sample included a small number of Black females, therefore, these results should be generalized with caution. This study adds to the literature that BA is an effective treatment for adolescents, specifically those in intensive treatment settings (i.e., residential, partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient). Future research should include more ethnically/racially and gender diverse samples of adolescents and consider a qualitative approach in understanding patient’s perspectives on and satisfaction with BA as a treatment.

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Psychology Commons