Socioeconomic Status, Daily Affective and Social Experiences, and Inflammation During Adolescence

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Abstract

Objective

To assess the relation between socioeconomic status (SES) and inflammation during adolescence and determine whether daily affective and social experiences across a 15-day period mediate this relation.

Methods

Adolescents (n = 316) completed daily diary reports of positive affect, negative affect, and negative social interactions for 15 days and provided whole blood spot samples for the assessment of C-reactive protein (CRP). Parents provided information on SES, including the highest level of education they and their spouses completed and household income.

Results

Lower parent education was associated with higher levels of adolescent CRP, controlling for age, sex, ethnicity, and body mass index (β = −.12, p = .031). Mean daily positive affect, negative affect, and negative social interactions were examined as potential mediators of this association. In these models, parent education was no longer associated with adolescent CRP (β = −.09, p = .12), and only positive affect was related to CRP (β = −.12, p = .025). Bootstrapping confirmed the mediating role of positive affect (indirect effect = −0.015, 95% confidence interval = −0.038 to −0.002).

Conclusions

Adolescents with less educated parents tended to have higher levels of CRP, which may be explained by their lower levels of positive affect. Findings suggest that a lack of positive affect may be a pathway by which SES confers early risk for poor health in adulthood. It is possible that adolescents who display positive affect during daily life in circumstances of relatively adverse socioeconomic circumstances may have better health outcomes related to lower inflammatory factors.

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