Direct and indirect associations between childhood adversity and emotional and behavioral problems at age 14: A network analytical approach

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Abstract

We applied network analysis combined with community detection algorithms to examine how adverse experiences (AEs) (e.g., abuse, bullying victimization, financial difficulties) are, individually and conjunctively, associated with emotional and behavioral problems at age fourteen in the Dutch TRacking Adolescents' Individual Lives Survey (TRAILS, N = 1880, 52.2% female). We found that bullying victimization, peer rejection, parental mental health problems, emotional abuse, and sexual abuse were the only AEs directly contributing to risk of emotional problems. Parental divorce and emotional abuse were the only AEs directly contributing to risk of behavioral problems. Most AEs (e.g., parental employment, parental physical illness) were not conditionally associated with emotional and behavioral problems but may nevertheless contribute to emotional and behavioral problems via associations with other AEs (e.g., parental unemployment and emotional abuse). Community detection algorithms suggested that many of the AEs cluster together (e.g., physical abuse, emotional abuse, and sexual abuse; financial difficulties and parental unemployment), sometimes with emotional and behavioral problems (e.g., bullying victimization, peer rejection and emotional problems). Our findings shed light on how individual AEs contribute to risks of emotional and behavioral problems directly, and indirectly through associations with other AEs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalDevelopment and Psychopathology
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 11-Apr-2023

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