Background: Family socio-economic position (SEP) is known to be associated with adolescent mental health. Whether the relationship is different for different mental health dimensions is unknown. Methods: Using a cross-sectional design, we investigated the differential effects of family SEP on multiple mental health dimensions in preadolescents (N = 2230, baseline age 10–12, 49% boys) using reports from multiple informants (parent, self, and teachers). A score equal to or higher than the 85th percentile (averaged across informants) defined mental health problems. Results: SEP was inversely associated with all dimensions. Compared to high SEP, the odds ratios (OR) for externalizing problems were 3.88 (95% confidence interval (CI): 2.56, 5.90) and 2.05 (CI: 1.34, 3.14) for low and intermediate SEP, respectively. For internalizing problems, they were 1.86 (CI: 1.28, 2.70) and 1.37 (CI: 0.94, 2.00), respectively. When adjusted for externalizing problems, SEP effects on internalizing problems materially attenuated (OR: 1.47, CI: 0.78, 1.68 and OR: 1.34, CI: 0.91, 1.96) while the converse was less pronounced (OR: 3.39, CI: 2.24, 5.15) and (OR: 1.91, CI: 1.25, 2.94). Conclusion: In early adolescence, the risk of mental health problems increases with decreasing SEP, particularly for externalizing problems. Further, the SEP-internalizing problems relationship is partly explained by shared aspects with externalizing problems.
This study examined the possible risk-buffering and risk-enhancing role of family characteristics on the association between temperament and early adolescent externalizing and internalizing problems, adjusted for familial vulnerability for psychopathology and early childhood problem behavior. Furthermore, it was explored whether these* *effects were specific or conditional for either internalizing or externalizing problems, or more generic for psychopathology. Data on temperament (frustration and fearfulness) and family characteristics (overprotection, rejection, emotional warmth, and socio-economic status) came from a large longitudinal Dutch population sample of early adolescents (T2: /n/ = 2149; /M/ age = 13.55; 51.2% girls). Hypotheses on the direction and the specificity of the effects were derived from a goal framing approach. The findings indicate that family characteristics can either buffer or enhance the temperamental risk to develop psychopathology. Analyses on the direction of these effects resulted in a descriptive classification of domain-specific, conditional, and generic factors that promote or protect the development of psychopathology. Implications of the results are discussed and directions for future research are given.