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The quality of parent-child relationship and health in later life

By Camelia V. Arsene


Background: Epidemiological studies have shown that social and emotional support can protect against premature mortality and prevent illness. The longterm consequences of poor parent-child relationships on adult mental health have been a major focus of research. Much less attention has been directed towards the effects on physical health outcomes. \ud Objective: Based on the life course model, this thesis assessed the extent to which child-parent relationships influence physical health in later life. \ud Methods: The dissertation was based on a systematic review of longitudinal studies linking parent-child relationships and physical health in adulthood, and on secondary data-analyses of the Christchurch Health and Development Study. The role played by different confounders and mediators was discussed. The analyses were based on multivariate regression methods. \ud Results: Most of the systematic review studies showed a positive association between poor parenting and health in later life. Supportive of the association were studies on general health relying on self-reports. Non-supportive were studies looking at mortality and rare diseases and relying on official records. Some of the studies presented their findings in relation to gender, girls being more likely to somatise in adolescence or in adulthood. An association was found for the Christchurch Health and Development Study between the quality of parent-child relationship and hospital admission or the number of doctor visits. These effects were more pronounced in females. Overall, adjusting for different confounders and mediators added some information, but did not replace the effect of the exposure variables on the outcomes. \ud Conclusion: More research is required in understanding how the early behavioural, environmental and social factors work together in the development of long term health outcomes. Given the growing evidence of the long term effects of poor parent-child relationships, greater efforts are clearly needed in developing effective strategies for prevention and intervention

Topics: HQ, RA
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