The following is excerpted from an online article posted by ScienceDaily.
Researchers from Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) have found that adolescents who report strong relationships with their parents have better long-term health outcomes. Study findings, published today in JAMA Network Open, suggest that investments in improving parent-adolescent relationships could help improve general health, mental health, and sexual, health while also reducing substance use in young adulthood.
The study utilized data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health. Reseachers tested whether adolescents’ reports of specific, measurable characteristics of their relationships with mother- and father figures with whom they live were linked to health outcomes measured 14 years later. The researchers looked at data from more than 15,000 adults who were initially enrolled in the study in the mid-1990s when they were between 12 and 17 years old.
The researchers looked at characteristics such as reported parental warmth, communication, time together, and academic expectations as assessed when the participants were between 12 and 17 years old. When those same participants were 24 to 32 years old, they reported on current levels of stress, depression, optimism, nicotine dependence and substance abuse, and other measures of general health. The study controlled for age, race, ethnicity, family structure, and other factors and separated the data based on relationships with mother and father figures who lived in the home. More than 10,000 participants were analyzed for the study.
The study found that participants who reported higher levels of mother-adolescent and father-adolescent warmth, communication, time together, academic expectations, relationship or communication satisfaction, and inductive discipline reported significantly higher levels of general health in young adulthood. Similarly, they reported significantly higher levels of optimism and romantic relationship quality and lower levels of stress and depressive symptoms as young adults. Higher levels of adolescent-reported parental warmth, time together, and relationship or communication satisfaction were also significantly associated with lower levels of nicotine dependence and substance abuse in young adulthood as well as lower odds of unintended pregnancy.