2011 › Trails



Temperament: Child temperament moderates the impact of parental separation on adolescent mental health. The TRAILS Study

Authors: Sentse M, Ormel J, Veenstra R, Verhulst FC, Oldehinkel AJ

The potential effect of parental separation during early adolescence on adolescent externalizing and internalizing problems was investigated in a longitudinal sample of adolescents (/n/ = 1274; mean age = 16.27; 52.3% girls). Pre-separation mental health problems were controlled for. Building on a large number of studies that overall showed a small effect of parental separation, it was argued that separation may only or especially have an effect under certain conditions. It was examined whether child temperament (effortful control and fearfulness) moderates the impact of parental separation on specific mental health domains. Hypotheses were derived from a goal-framing theory, with a focus on goals related to satisfying the need for autonomy and the need to belong. Controlling for the overlap between the outcome domains, we found that parental separation led to an increase in externalizing problems but not internalizing problems when interactions with child temperament were ignored. Moreover, child temperament moderated the impact of parental separation, in that it was only related to increased externalizing problems for children low on effortful control, whereas it was only related to increased internalizing problems for children high on fearfulness. The results indicate that person-environment interactions are important for understanding the development of mental health problems and that these interactions can be domain-specific.

Temperament: Risk indicators of anxiety throughout adolescence. The TRAILS study

Authors: Van Oort FVA, Greaves-Lord K, Verhulst FC, Ormel J, Huizink AC

Background. The aim was to identify risk indicators from preadolescence (age period 10-12) that significantly predict unfavorable deviations from normal anxiety development throughout adolescence (age period 10-17 years). Methods. Anxiety symptoms were assessed in a community sample of 2,220 boys and girls at three time-points across a 5-year interval. Risk indicators were measured at baseline and include indicators from the child, family, and peer domain. Associations with anxiety were measured with multilevel growth curve analyses. Results. A stable difference in anxiety over adolescence was found between high and low levels of a range of child factors (frustration, effortful control), family factors (emotional warmth received from parents, lifetime parental internalizing problems), and peer factor (victims of bullying) (P<.001). In contrast, the difference in anxiety between high and low levels of factors, such as self-competence, unfavorable parenting styles, and bully victims, decreased over adolescence (P<.001). For other family factors, associations were weaker (.05<P<.001). Associations with parental education and family composition were not significant. Adjustment for concurrent depressive symptoms attenuated the associations, but those that were significant at P<.001 remained to be so. Specificity for anxiety subtypes (generalized anxiety, separation anxiety, social phobia, panic, and obsessive-compulsive symptoms) was reported for each association. Conclusions. Several child, family, and peer factors measured in preadolescence were risk indicators of high levels of anxiety symptoms throughout adolescence. Some factors (such as rejective parenting) were vulnerability indicators for anxiety in early adolescence only, whereas other factors (such as peer victimization) were indicators of long-term elevated anxiety levels

Temperament: Adolescent Family Adversity and Mental Health Problems: The Role of Adaptive Self-regulation Capacities. The TRAILS Study

Authors: Bakker MP, Ormel J, Verhulst FC, Oldehinkel AJ

Adolescent family adversity is a considerable adaptive challenge in an increasingly turbulent developmental period. Using data from a prospective population cohort of 2230 Dutch adolescents, we tested risk-buffering interactions between adolescent family adversity and selfregulation capacities on mental health. We used two adaptive self-regulation capacities that could allow adolescents to manage relatively well with family adversity: (1) parent-reported effortful control, and (2) an attentional flexibility (in this case, set-shifting) task. Adolescent family adversity was associated with internalizing problems and externalizing problems. The risk-buffering effects of effortful control were found for externalizing problems but not or internalizing problems. There were no risk-buffering effects of attentional flexibility on both types of mental health problems. Effortful control is likely to benefit adolescents’ ability to channel their frustrations in adaptive ways in the presence of family adversity. Additionally, (attentional) set-shifting tasks might have a limited predictive value for risk-buffering research.

Temperament: Are Adolescents Gambling With Cannabis Use? A Longitudinal Study of Impulsivity Measures and Adolescent Substance Use: The TRAILS Study

Authors: Prince van Leeuwen A, Creemers HE, Verhulst FC, Ormel J, Huizink AC

Objective. This study examined (a) the predictive value of observed versus reported measures of impulsivity on the onset of cannabis use and determined if lifetime tobacco and cannabis users can be differentiated by their level of impulsivity and (b) the predictive value of observed versus reported measures of impulsivity on repeated cannabis use and determined if repeated tobacco and cannabis users can be differentiated by their level of impulsivity. Method. The present study involves 667 (50.5% female) adolescents assessed at two time points of the TRacking Adolescents' Individual Lives Survey (TRAILS). Adolescents in our study participated in the Bangor Gambling Task (BGT), as well as completed self-report questionnaires assessing cannabis use behavior (Mage = 16.11 years) and the Behavioral Inhibition System (BIS)/Behavioral Activation System (BAS) questionnaire (Mage = 13.56 years). Results. Higher levels of BAS functioning increased the likelihood that adolescents would ever use substances such as tobacco or cannabis during their lifetime. In contrast, low BIS functioning increased the likelihood of repeated cannabis use. Repeated tobacco users did not significantly differ from lifetime users by their BIS functioning. The BGT measures were not significant in relation to lifetime or repeated use of cannabis or tobacco. Conclusions. High BAS seems to be more important for experimental substance use, whereas low BIS seems to be more important for progression into regular cannabis use specifically. In contrast to the BIS/BAS, our laboratory test of impulsivity, the BGT, is not correlated with early-onset tobacco/cannabis use. Furthermore, the BGT is not correlated with the BIS/BAS measures.