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Peer victimization and relationships to approach and avoidance coping to health and health behaviors


Peer victimization during high school is a common experience associated with engagement in risky health behaviors and elevated depressive symptoms. Mechanisms linking peer victimization to health outcomes remain inadequately understood. In the current study, latent class analysis was used to identify latent subclasses of college students who display similar patterns of responses to frequent peer victimization experiences during high school. We also examined moderating and mediating effects of coping (approach/avoidance) on relationships between victimization class and health outcomes (i.e., binge drinking, current smoking, depressive symptoms). College students completed questionnaire measures of peer victimization, approach and avoidance coping, binge drinking, smoking, and depressive symptoms. Four distinct patterns of peer victimization were identified among college students (Low, High, Moderate, and Social/Verbal). Moderation models revealed significant interactions of moderate victimization x approach coping on depressive symptoms and high victimization x avoidance coping on binge drinking. Mediation models revealed a significant indirect effect of avoidance coping on depressive symptoms for those in the high victimization class. Findings provide a greater understanding of the complex patterns of peer victimization. Coping efforts among varying peer victimization classes had different relationships with health outcomes during the college years. Interventions aimed at reducing health-risk and depressive symptoms among college student might benefit from increased attention to high school victimization experiences and current coping processes.Supplemental data for this article is available online at .

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