Adolescent Stress Induced by Family Structures and its Effect on Adult Health : A Longitudinal Assessment

ECU Author/Contributor (non-ECU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Maria Trull McDonald (Creator)
East Carolina University (ECU )
Web Site:
Willigen Marieke Van

Abstract: This study strives to explain the decrease in health among children and young adults in the United States in recent decades by examining the relationship between adolescent family environments and health measures of the individuals as adults. The study utilizes the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health) dataset Waves I and IV to analyze health measures commonly used to rate the wear and tear on the body such as high blood pressure BMI (Body Mass Index) diabetes high cholesterol and poor purported health. Findings suggest that family structure during adolescence is an important predictor of adult health outcomes. Yet it also underscores that family structure is complicated and cannot be simplified into a traditional versus nontraditional family dichotomy. Results from Logistic Regression models indicate when disaggregating the many different forms of "alternative family forms" that the two biological parent home is not necessarily less stressful than all alternative family forms. Siblings also play a very integral part in the relationship between family structure and health as an adult. Multivariate models suggest that siblings have a positive effect in the family. In particular being an only child is associated with higher levels of obesity and high blood pressure. Finding presented here underscore the importance of siblings to long term health. Yet they also provide some preliminary support for the perspective that different types of siblings may have different impacts. Indeed it appears that variations in sibling structure may explain some of the association between guardian structure and long term health. This study confirms the conclusions of other researchers that health among young people in this country is on the decline. 

Additional Information

Date: 2012
Social research, Social structure, Adolescents, Family Structure, Health, Long-Term Health, Stress
Health behavior in adolescence
Stress in adolescence
Stress in children
Families--Health and hygiene

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