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Chronic Family Economic Hardship, Family Processes and Progression of Mental and Physical Health Symptoms in Adolescence

NCJ Number
Journal of Youth and Adolescence Volume: 42 Issue: 6 Dated: June 2013 Pages: 821-836
Tae K. Lee; K. A. S. Wickrama; Leslie Gordon Simmons
Date Published
June 2013
16 pages
This study investigated the influences of chronic family economic hardship on adolescents' multiple health problems.
Research has documented the relationship between family stressors such as family economic hardship and marital conflict and adolescents' mental health symptoms, especially depressive symptoms. Few studies, however, have examined the processes whereby supportive parenting lessens this effect and the progression of mental health and physical health symptoms in adolescence. The present study investigates the influences of chronic family economic hardship on adolescents' multiple health problem symptoms (i.e., symptoms of anxiety, and depression and physical complaints) through parents' marital conflict, and supportive parenting; it also examines how there adolescents' health problems mutually influence one another throughout adolescence. The authors used Structural Equation Modeling to analyze data from a longitudinal sample of European American mothers, fathers, and target adolescents (N = 451, 53 percent female) to examine direct and indirect effects. Findings generally supported the hypothesized model. Chronic family economic hardship contributed to mental and physical health problems of adolescents. This influence largely was mediated through supportive parenting. Moreover, supportive parenting buffered marital conflict on depressive symptoms of adolescents. Also, there was a tendency for females to show more stable depressive symptoms than males. The study demonstrates key mediating pathways and additional moderating influences based on the family stress model and also highlights the importance of improving health resources for adolescents. Abstract published by arrangement with Springer.