Home > Mediators of the longitudinal relationship between childhood adversity and late adolescent psychopathology.

Healy, Colm and Eaton, Aisling and Cotter, Isabel and Carter, Ellen and Dhondt, Niamh and Cannon, Mary (2021) Mediators of the longitudinal relationship between childhood adversity and late adolescent psychopathology. Psychological Medicine, Early online, pp. 1-9. doi: 10.1017/S0033291721000477.

External website: https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/psychologi...

BACKGROUND: Childhood adversity (CA) is commonly associated with an increased risk of subsequent psychopathology. It is important to identify potential mediators of this relationship which can allow for the development of interventions. In a large population-based cohort study we investigated the relationship between CA and late adolescent psychopathology and early adolescent candidate mediators of this relationship.

METHODS: We used data from three waves (n = 6039) of Cohort 98' of the Growing up in Ireland Study (age 9, 13 and 17). We used doubly robust counterfactual analyses to investigate the relationship between CA (reported at age-9) with psychopathology (internalizing and externalizing problems), measured using the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire at age-17. Counterfactual and traditional mediation was used to investigate the mediating effects of the parent-child relationship, peer relations, self-concept, computer usage and physical activity.

RESULTS: CA was associated with an increased risk of internalizing and externalizing problems at age-17. Parent-child conflict mediated 35 and 42% of the relationship between CA and late adolescent externalizing problems and internalizing problems, respectively. Self-concept and physical activity mediated an additional proportion of the relationship between CA and internalizing problems. These results were robust to unmeasured confounding.

CONCLUSIONS: Parent-child conflict explains more than a third of the relationship between CA and later psychopathology. Self-concept and physical activity explain the additional proportion of the relationship between CA and internalizing problems. This suggests that these factors may be good targets for intervention in young people who have experienced CA to prevent subsequent psychopathology.


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