Adolescent friendships predict later resilient functioning across psychosocial domains in a healthy community cohort - van Harmelen, Kievit e.a. 2017 - Artikel


Introduction

Psychosocial difficulties including mental health disorders are often developed during adolescence. In psychiatry, resilience is explained as the dynamic process in which individuals display a positive pattern of adaptation, despite their experiences of (childhood) adversity or trauma. Negative childhood experiences can contribute negatively to adolescent psychosocial functioning (PSF). Resilient PSF in adolescents can therefore be reflecting a positive adaptation to others with similar familiar experiences. However, comparable childhood familiar experiences do not necessarily reflect similar patterns of experience appraisal. For example, the perceived level of threat (not actual) can be different among individuals leading to differences in stress-response. From the multidimensional perspective, the presence of psychopathology or personal impairment does not necessarily lead to concurrent resilient functioning. Therefore, it is indicated that adolescent resilient functioning should capture adaptive behaviour because it is not a personality trait that is consistent over time.

What are the objectives of this study?

Psychosocial function and adolescent adaptability (resilient) are promoted during adolescence. This period is very importance in the emerge of mental -and psychosocial health disorders. To adequately judge mental health, the conceptualization -and quantification of predictors is the first step. In the current study, the resilient functioning is measured to the degree to which an individual displays better functioning than expected given their familiar childhood experiences. This will be compared to family -and friendship support in adolescence.

What methods were used?

Participants were healthy, reporting low levels of psychopathological symptoms, behaviours and traits. They also scored average on mental wellbeing scores. Psychosocial function (PSF) was measured using a questionnaire including items on negative family environments in childhood, personality traits and reduced overall mental stability. Childhood family experiences were measured by two self-report questionnaires. The first was the measure of parenting style and the second was the Alabama parenting questionnaire.

Subsequently, predictors of resilient functioning were measured. The family assessment device (FAD) was measured, high scores resemble a positive family environment, so a lot of family support. The Cambridge friendship questionnaire (CFQ) was used to indicate the quality of friendships.

The association between childhood family experiences and PSF was studied using Principal Component analysis and regression. For PSF, psychiatric symptomatology, mental wellbeing and personality traits were included. Adolescents (N = 2389) were tested on PSF and it was measured if they performed worse or better than expected based on their childhood family experience. The performance on PSF reflect resilient functioning. The distinction between performing worse or better was made. One year later, family -and friendship support was related to resilient functioning.

What were the results of this study?

The results of this study were divided in several subsections:

  • Resilient functioning is better/worse than expected based on one’s childhood family experiences.
  • The association between friendships in adolescence, family support and resilient functioning.
  • The longitudinal predictors of resilient psychosocial factors.

First, the predictors of adolescent resilient functioning are examined. A measure of resilient PSF is created in three steps:

  1. PCA is used to establish individual component scores for PSF and childhood family experiences.
  2. PSF is regressed on childhood family experiences.
  3. Residual scores are extracted from the relationships. They resemble psychosocial resilient functioning: if a participant is functioning better or worse given their childhood experiences.

Positive predictors of Immediate resilient PSF were friendship support and family support. Friendship support was the strongest predictor. Also, friendship support was a significant positive predictor for resilient functioning later in life, whereas family support showed a negative relationship with later resilient PSF.

What conclusions were drawn from these results?

It is shown that friendship support, not family support is a meaningful positive predictor of immediate and later resilient PSF. This holds for both immediate -and later PSF in adulthood and early adolescence. Therefore, interventions promoting needed skills to sustain and acquire adolescent friendship support could be decisive in increasing adolescent resilient PSF.

What explanations do the researchers give for the results?  

The mechanisms responsible for the positive relation between adolescent friendship and resilient functioning are still unknown. The authors suggest the potential explanation that friendships promote individual skills responsible for promoting social interaction -and competence. Social competence could be a mediator of the link between resilient functioning and friendship interactions. However, this is not likely because the relation between baseline resilient functioning and later friendships was very weak. Another explanation could be that adolescent friendship support might increase resilient functioning by companionship. Later behavioural problems are reduced by prosocial interactions, therefore friendship might also increase resilient functioning because of prosocial behaviour. This could be due to support for social decision making or reducing feelings of loneliness.

The overall explanation is that emotion-cognition mechanisms update negative self-cognitions and therefore increase resilient functioning. Negative self-cognitions are found in children experiencing low peer-support. These children often report loneliness. These negative self-cognitions often negatively alter appraisals and behaviours in (tense) situations. They also colour memories. This might be the link between negative family environments and poor mental health.

What are the limitations of this study?

The limitation is the use of a complex measure of PSF. The subjectivity of self-report childhood experiences is not considered. Therefore, it might be biased. People that are highly resilient might report more positive childhood experiences, whereas less resilient individuals might report more negative childhood experiences. Also, the sample reported only low levels of negative family experiences. Further studies should examine if resilient PSF is predicted by friendship support after more severe childhood experiences such as sexual abuse.

Summary:

  • Negative childhood experiences can contribute negatively to adolescent psychosocial functioning (PSF).
  • Psychosocial function and adolescent adaptability (resilient) are promoted during adolescence. This period is very importance in the emerge of mental -and psychosocial health disorders.  
  • It is shown that friendship support, not family support is a meaningful positive predictor of immediate and later resilient PSF. This holds for both immediate -and later PSF in adulthood and early adolescence. Therefore, interventions promoting needed skills to sustain and acquire adolescent friendship support could be decisive in increasing adolescent resilient PSF.

Study note:

  • The authors name several explanations for the results they found. What could be the influence of using self-report measures in this study on the findings of the authors?
  • Make sure you can state what the relationship was between family childhood experiences and resilient functioning. What does this relation mean for the development of interventions?

 

 

Check page access:
Public
Work for WorldSupporter

Image

JoHo can really use your help!  Check out the various student jobs here that match your studies, improve your competencies, strengthen your CV and contribute to a more tolerant world

Working for JoHo as a student in Leyden

Parttime werken voor JoHo

How to use more summaries?


Online access to all summaries, study notes en practice exams

Using and finding summaries, study notes en practice exams on JoHo WorldSupporter

There are several ways to navigate the large amount of summaries, study notes en practice exams on JoHo WorldSupporter.

  1. Starting Pages: for some fields of study and some university curricula editors have created (start) magazines where customised selections of summaries are put together to smoothen navigation. When you have found a magazine of your likings, add that page to your favorites so you can easily go to that starting point directly from your profile during future visits. Below you will find some start magazines per field of study
  2. Use the menu above every page to go to one of the main starting pages
  3. Tags & Taxonomy: gives you insight in the amount of summaries that are tagged by authors on specific subjects. This type of navigation can help find summaries that you could have missed when just using the search tools. Tags are organised per field of study and per study institution. Note: not all content is tagged thoroughly, so when this approach doesn't give the results you were looking for, please check the search tool as back up
  4. Follow authors or (study) organizations: by following individual users, authors and your study organizations you are likely to discover more relevant study materials.
  5. Search tool : 'quick & dirty'- not very elegant but the fastest way to find a specific summary of a book or study assistance with a specific course or subject. The search tool is also available at the bottom of most pages

Do you want to share your summaries with JoHo WorldSupporter and its visitors?

Quicklinks to fields of study (main tags and taxonomy terms)

Field of study

Access level of this page
  • Public
  • WorldSupporters only
  • JoHo members
  • Private
Statistics
577
Comments, Compliments & Kudos:

Add new contribution

CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Image CAPTCHA
Enter the characters shown in the image.