Cumulative Risk Across Family Stressors: Short- and Long-Term Effects for Adolescents

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Abstract

This study examined the relationship between number of family risk factors during adolescence and three areas of psychosocial adjustment (internalizing problems, externalizing problems, and academic achievement) in adolescence and 6 years later in young adulthood. Risk factors examined included parental divorce, interparental conflict, maternal physical health problems, maternal depressive mood, and mother-adolescent relationship difficulties. The findings indicated both concurrent and long-term associations between number of family risk factors and psychosocial adjustment; however, the results differed based on area of adjustment examined and whether concurrent or longitudinal data were considered. Furthermore, a steep increase in adjustment difficulties occurred when number of risk factors increased from three to four. The results are discussed in the framework of four hypotheses which were tested, and clinical implications are delineated.

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