Abstract: Age-Varying Effects of Parental Warmth and Closeness on Adolescent and Young Adult Substance Use and Depression (Society for Prevention Research 27th Annual Meeting)

648 Age-Varying Effects of Parental Warmth and Closeness on Adolescent and Young Adult Substance Use and Depression

Friday, May 31, 2019
Pacific A (Hyatt Regency San Francisco)
* noted as presenting author
Benjamin Bayly, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA
Sara Vasilenko, PhD, Research Associate, The Pennsylvania State University, State College, PA
Introduction: The protective nature of parental warmth and closeness during adolescence has been well established. Adolescents with warm parents they are close to are less likely to use substances (SU) or be depressed. Parental relationships continue to matter for SU and depression during the transition into young adulthood; however, little is known about how the association between parental warmth/closeness and SU and depression changes across adolescence into young adulthood (a time when SU and depression often peak) and if these associations vary by adolescent gender.

Method: Data come from Add Health, a nationally representative sample of adolescents. Data were collected initially from adolescents in grades 7-12 and participants were followed into adulthood through four waves of data collection. In the current study, participants who participated in all four waves were included (N=12,288). Participants reported their heavy episodic drinking (HED), marijuana use, tobacco use, depressive symptoms, how close they felt to each parent, and how warm each parent was. We used weighted time-varying effect models (TVEM), which allows the direction and strength of regression coefficients to vary over time. Participant age was used as the time variable, the age-varying association between parental closeness/warmth on SU and depression was tested, and adolescent gender was tested as a moderator of the time-varying effect.

Results: TVEM results revealed significant gender by parental closeness/warmth interactions for nearly all outcomes of interest. Generally, the interactions followed one of the following patterns: 1) stronger association for women up to age 18; 2) stronger association for women after age 18; 3) stronger association for women through age 30; 4) stronger association for women up to age 18 and after age 22. We then ran TVEM separately for men and women, which demonstrated different patterns across time for SU outcomes. For example, maternal closeness was most strongly associated with men’s HED around age 14, but this association declined and was no longer significant at age 23. For women, maternal closeness remained a significant predictor of HED up until age 30. For depression, the pattern across time was similar for men and women; parental closeness/warmth had the strongest association with depression around age 15, then the association declined until around age 22, and increased again.

Conclusion: These results carry important implications for appropriately timed-interventions designed to prevent SU among men and women and promote mental wellbeing. For example, for preventing HED for men it appears that parenting in mid and late-adolescence is a critical time, but for women parenting remains relevant for HED through early adulthood.