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Pathways maintaining physical health problems from childhood to young adulthood: The role of stress and mood.

  • Author(s): Dalton, Elizabeth D;
  • Hammen, Constance L;
  • Brennan, Patricia A;
  • Najman, Jake M
  • et al.


Poor physical health in childhood is associated with a variety of negative health-related outcomes in adulthood. Psychosocial pathways contributing to the maintenance of physical health problems from childhood to young adulthood remain largely unexamined, despite evidence that factors such as negative mood and stress impact physical health.


The current study tested the direct and indirect effects of ongoing health, chronic stress, health-related chronic stress, and depressive symptoms at age 20 on the link between health problems in childhood and young adulthood (age 21) in a longitudinal sample (n = 384).

Main outcome measures

The hypotheses were tested using a multiple mediation path analysis framework; the primary outcome measure was a composite index of health status markers in young adulthood.


The proposed model provided an adequate fit for the data, with significant total indirect effects of the four mediators and significant specific indirect effects of health-related chronic stress and depressive symptoms in maintaining health problems from childhood into young adulthood.


Health problems are maintained from early childhood into young adulthood in part through psychosocial mechanisms. Depressive symptoms and health-related chronic stress have significant, unique effects on the relationship between health problems in early childhood and young adulthood.

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