The Association of Negative Family Processes in Early Adolescence and Health Status and Body Mass Index in Late Adolescence and Early Adulthood

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Pollock, Elizabeth Davenport
Shenassa, Edmond
Extant research suggests that negative family processes during adolescence may be detrimental to health over time. Informed by family systems theory and the biopsychosocial perspective, this study examined the association of negative family processes in early adolescence and health status and body mass index in late adolescence and early adulthood. Data from U.S. males and females in two-parent households from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997 were examined over a ten year period from early adolescence to early adulthood. Results from logistic regressions and multiple regressions suggest that negative parent-child processes (NPCP) and negative inter-parental processes (NIPP) are associated with elevated risk for poorer health status but are not associated with body mass index. Logistic regressions estimated the association between NPCP and NIPP and youth's risk of very good, good and poor health status, respectively, as compared to excellent health status. Specifically, there is a step function for the association between NPCP and risk for poorer health status in late adolescence and early adulthood, between NIPP and risk for poorer health status in late adolescence and between NIPP and risk for the poorest health status category in early adulthood. Mental health, unhealthy behaviors (tobacco use, marijuana use and alcohol use), and healthy behaviors (i.e. physical activity) partially mediated the association between NPCP and NIPP, respectively, and health status in late adolescence, and mental health and tobacco use (only for NPCP) partially mediated the association with health status in early adulthood. All analyses are independent of race, gender, maternal education, health status in early adolescence, BMI in early adolescence, parental health status, and parental BMI. Moderation by maternal education and implications for public health, future research, programming, and therapy are discussed.