The family is uniquely positioned either to positively or negatively influence the well-being, development, and adjustment of adolescents. There is a considerable body of research in the general literature associating the family environment with adolescent externalizing and internalizing behaviors of adolescents. St. Lucia, and the rest of the Caribbean, have distinctive cultural and familial habits and patterns that may influence adolescents' behavior. However, little or no attention has been given to assessing empirically the role that family dynamics may play in adolescents' behavior on the island of St. Lucia. The purpose of this study was to explore the relationship between the family environment and internalizing or depression withdrawn, and somatic symptoms and externalizing behaviors or rule breaking and aggression among adolescents in St. Lucia. The sample was drawn from nine secondary schools and a total of 597 students and their parents also participated in the study. Result of multiple regression analysis revealed that family environment plays a complex role in its impact on adolescents internalizing and externalizing behaviors. That is, while system maintenance is inversely related to internalizing behaviors, relationship and personal growth are unrelated to this outcome. In contrast, relationship, personal growth, and systems maintenance are all unrelated to externalizing behaviors. Additional analyses of the subscales for the predictor and outcome variables suggest relationships that were not indicated by the composite variables. Future research might include variables that are descriptive of the family environment, such as number of siblings and family structure that were not included in this study. The results of this study points to the importance of a comprehensive assessment of family environment in predicting adolescents' behaviors in St. Lucia, and offer important implications for theory, research, and practice.

LLU Discipline

Family Studies


Counseling and Family Sciences


School of Science and Technology

First Advisor

Wilson, Colwick M.

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Level


Year Degree Awarded

January 2011

Date (Title Page)




Library of Congress/MESH Subject Headings

St. Lucia

Subject - Local

Family Systems Theory; Family Environment; Externalizing Behaviors; Internalizing Behaviors



Page Count

145 p.

Digital Format


Digital Publisher

Loma Linda University Libraries

Usage Rights

This title appears here courtesy of the author, who has granted Loma Linda University a limited, non-exclusive right to make this publication available to the public. The author retains all other copyrights.


Loma Linda University Electronic Theses & Dissertations

Collection Website



Loma Linda University. Del E. Webb Memorial Library. University Archives