Researchers examining the etiology of chronic illness in adulthood are increasingly looking back towards early life events to find risk factors for disease. To date, researchers have failed to account for the tremendous amount of social growth and development that takes place in the intervening years between infancy and adulthood. This prospective longitudinal study examines the influence of adolescent and young adult social functioning on adult physical outcomes above and beyond the influence of early life social functioning. This study also examines the relative influence of social functioning, socio-economic status (SES), and health history on adult health outcomes. Participants from this study are a subsample from the Minnesota Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (N=167) who have been followed from birth to age 34 years. Social functioning was assessed in infancy as the continuity of attachment classifications between ages 12 and 18 months. Adolescent, young adult, and adult social functioning were assessed via qualitative codes of videotaped interactions and interviews. At age 32 and 34 years participants were asked about the presence of or treatment for any physical illness. Results indicated that infant social functioning predicted the likelihood of reporting a physical illness in adulthood above and beyond the effects of later social functioning, early and concurrent SES, physical health, concurrent body mass index, gender, and self-reported neuroticism. These findings indicate that attachment in infancy exerts a powerful influence on later physical health outcomes and suggests that it as a powerful point of intervention.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. June 2014. Major: Child Psychology. Advisors: W. Andrew Collins
Michelle M. Englund: 1 computer file (PDF); vi, 120 pages, appendices A-D.
Mitigating the Effects of Early Experience: Adolescent Social functioning as a predictor of adult health.
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