Assessment of awareness of connectedness as a culturally-based protective factor for Alaska native youth.
Research with Native Americans has identified connectedness as a culturally based protective factor against substance abuse and suicide. Connectedness refers to the interrelated welfare of the individual, one's family, one's community, and the natural environment. We developed an 18-item quantitative assessment of awareness of connectedness and tested it with 284 Alaska Native youth. Evaluation with confirmatory factor analysis and item response theory identified a 12-item subset that functions satisfactorily in a second-order four-factor model. The proposed Awareness of Connectedness Scale (ACS) displays good convergent and discriminant validity, and correlates positively with hypothesized protective factors such as reasons for living and communal mastery. The measure has utility in the study of culture-specific protective factors and as an outcomes measure for behavioral health programs with Native American youth.