This study is one of the first to explore the relevance of trust to the health of adolescents living in a disadvantaged urban setting. The primary objectives were to determine the differences in the sociodemographic characteristics between adolescents who do and do not trust and to examine the associations between trust and health. Data were drawn from the Well-Being of Adolescents in Vulnerable Environments (WAVE) study, which is a cross-sectional global study of adolescents in very low-income urban settings conducted in 2011–2013. This paper focused on 446 adolescents in Baltimore as it was the primary site where trust was explicitly measured. For the main analyses, six health outcomes were examined: (1) self-rated health; (2) violence victimization; (3) binge drinking; (4) marijuana use; (5) post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD); and (6) condom use at last sex. Independent variables included sociodemographic variables (age, gender, current school enrolment, perceived relative wealth, and family structure) and two dimensions of trust: community trust (trust in individuals/groups within neighborhood) and institutional trust (trust in authorities). The results show that more than half the sample had no trust in police, and a high proportion had no trust in other types of authority. Among girls, those with higher levels of community trust were less likely to be victimized and involved in binge drinking. Meanwhile, girls with higher levels of institutional trust were more likely to use a condom and less likely to have used marijuana. Among boys, those with higher levels of community trust were more likely to use a condom, while those with higher levels of institutional trust were less likely to use marijuana, but more likely binge drink. Overall, this study highlights the importance of trust for adolescent health. Most surprising were the differences in the associations between boys and girls with regard to the type of trust and specific health outcome that was significant.
- Institutional and community trust
- Urban adolescent health
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Health(social science)
- Urban Studies
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health