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Advancing Applied MCH Research

(SDAS) How does the family matter? Influences of child and adolescent family factors on adult mental health and functioning

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Project Number: R40 MC 08718-01
Grantee: Simmons College
Department/Center: School of Social Work/Simmons Longitudinal Study
Project Date: 9/1/2007

Final Report

(SDAS) How does the family matter? Influences of child and adolescent family factors on adult mental health and functioning Final Report (PDF) Exit Disclaimer

Principal Investigator

Helen Z. Reinherz, ScD
300 The Fenway
Boston, MA  02115-5898
Phone: (617) 521-3934


  • Women/Maternal
  • Middle Childhood (6-11 years)
  • Adolescence (12-18 years)


The key role of the family in shaping the psychosocial development of children has been extensively studied. But there has been little research from prospective longitudinal studies identifying the long-term effects of critical aspects of child and adolescent family environments on adult mental health and functioning. We propose to fill this gap by conducting additional analyses with data collected by the Simmons Longitudinal Study (SLS) to determine how family risk and health-promoting variables from childhood and adolescence (age 5-15) predict a broad range of adult mental health and functioning outcomes at age 30. The SLS is one of the longest and most comprehensive multi-disciplinary, multi-method community-based longitudinal studies in the U.S. that has traced the life course of a single-aged cohort (400 participants) from early childhood (age 5) to adulthood (age 30). Data were collected at 8 major time points from multiple informants, using measures with demonstrated reliability and validity. The proposed study has 2 Aims: (1) to examine the impact of family risk variables experienced during childhood and adolescence (age 5-15) on adult mental health and functioning at age 30 and (2) to determine the long-term effects of childhood and adolescent health-promoting family variables on adult outcomes. Family risk variables encompass two areas: (1) negative family environment (e.g., family violence) and (2) family history of mental disorders (e.g., substance abuse). Family health-promoting variables include: (1) a positive family environment (e.g., family cohesion) and (2) family social support (e.g., advice and positive feedback). Adult mental health and functioning outcomes at age 30 include two broad areas: (1) mental disorder and behavior problems and (2) functioning in vital age-appropriate domains (psychological, social, occupational, and physical health). Most analyses will use a two-stage approach. First, the relationship between each family risk or health-promoting variable and adult outcomes will be assessed using chi-square tests, odds ratios, t-tests and analysis of variance. Second, for those adult outcomes significantly predicted by several different family variables, stepwise multivariable logistic regression or stepwise multiple linear regression analyses will be conducted to determine the most salient subset of family variables. In addition to tests of statistical significance, effect sizes will be computed to provide an index of the practical significance of findings. Our results will be broadly disseminated to researchers, practitioners, and policymakers. These findings have direct implication for family support and educational programs promoting healthy child and adolescent development. Our proposed aims most directly address the MCH Bureau's Strategic Research Issue IV (SRI-IV), to promote the healthy development of MCH populations, but our findings can also contribute to MCH SRI-I by informing the design of effective screening and intervention programs for women and children at-risk for poor mental health.


Listed is descending order by year published.

Please visit the Grantee's Publication web site for a complete list of Publications. Exit Disclaimer

Paradis AD, Giaconia RM, Reinherz HZ, Beardslee WR, Ward KE, Fitzmaurice GM. Adolescent family factors promoting healthy adult functioning: a longitudinal community study. Child Adolesc Ment Health. 2011 Feb;16(1):30-37.

Paradis AD, Reinherz HZ, Giaconia RM, Beardslee WR, Ward KE, Fitzmaurice GM. Long-term impact of family arguments and physical violence on adult functioning at age 30 years: findings from the simmons longitudinal study. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2009 Mar;48(3):290-8.


Mental Health & Wellbeing, Substance Use, Violence & Abuse, Parenting

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