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This paper addresses the levels of psychological distress experienced at age 42 years by men and women born in 1958 and 1970. Comparing these cohorts born 12 years apart, we ask whether psychological distress has increased, and, if so, whether this increase can be explained by differences in their childhood conditions.
Data were utilized from two well-known population-based birth cohorts, the National Child Development Study and the 1970 British Cohort Study. Latent variable models and causal mediation methods were employed.
After establishing the measurement equivalence of psychological distress in the two cohorts we found that men and women born in 1970 reported higher levels of psychological distress compared with those born in 1958. These differences were more pronounced in men (b = 0.314, 95% confidence interval 0.252–0.375), with the magnitude of the effect being twice as strong compared with women (b = 0.147, 95% confidence interval 0.076–0.218). The effect of all hypothesized early-life mediators in explaining these differences was modest.
Our findings have implications for public health policy, indicating a higher average level of psychological distress among a cohort born in 1970 compared with a generation born 12 years earlier. Due to increases in life expectancy, more recently born cohorts are expected to live longer, which implies – if such differences persist – that they are likely to spend more years with mental health-related morbidity compared with earlier-born cohorts.
Eating disorder behaviours begin in adolescence. Few longitudinal studies
have investigated childhood risk and protective factors.
To investigate the prevalence of eating disorder behaviours and
cognitions and associated childhood psychological, physical and parental
risk factors among a cohort of 14-year-old children.
Data were collected from 6140 boys and girls aged 14 years.
Gender-stratified models were used to estimate prospective associations
between childhood body dissatisfaction, body mass index (BMI),
self-esteem, maternal eating disorder and family economic disadvantage on
adolescent eating disorder behaviours and cognitions.
Childhood body dissatisfaction strongly predicted eating disorder
cognitions in girls, but only in interaction with BMI in boys. Higher
self-esteem had a protective effect, particularly in boys. Maternal
eating disorder predicted body dissatisfaction and weight/shape concern
in adolescent girls and dieting in boys.
Risk factors for eating disorder behaviours and cognitions vary according
to gender. Prevention strategies should be gender-specific and target
modifiable predictors in childhood and early adolescence.
Certain parenting styles are influential in the emergence of later mental health problems, but less is known about the relationship between parenting style and later psychological well-being. Our aim was to examine the association between well-being in midlife and parental behaviour during childhood and adolescence, and the role of personality as a possible mediator of this relationship.
Data from 984 women in the 1946 British birth cohort study were analysed using structural equation modelling. Psychological well-being was assessed at age 52 years using Ryff's scales of psychological well-being. Parenting practices were recollected at age 43 years using the Parental Bonding Instrument. Extraversion and neuroticism were assessed at age 26 years using the Maudsley Personality Inventory.
In this sample, three parenting style factors were identified: care; non-engagement; control. Higher levels of parental care were associated with higher psychological well-being, while higher parental non-engagement or control were associated with lower levels of psychological well-being. The effects of care and non-engagement were largely mediated by the offspring's personality, whereas control had direct effects on psychological well-being. The psychological well-being of adult women was at least as strongly linked to the parenting style of their fathers as to that of their mothers, particularly in relation to the adverse effects of non-engagement and control.
This study used a prospective longitudinal design to examine the effects of parenting practices on psychological well-being in midlife. The effects of parenting, both positive and negative, persisted well into mid-adulthood.
Social capital has been considered aetiologically important in schizophrenia but the empirical evidence to support this hypothesis is absent. We tested whether social capital, measured at the neighbourhood level, was associated with the incidence of schizophrenia (ICD-10 F20).
We administered a cross-sectional questionnaire on social capital to 5% of the adult population in 33 neighbourhoods (wards) in South London (n=16 459). The questionnaire contained items relating to two social capital constructs: social cohesion and trust (SC&T) and social disorganization (SocD). Schizophrenia incidence rates, estimated using data from the Aetiology and Ethnicity in Schizophrenia and Other Psychoses (AESOP) study, provided the outcome. We used multi-level Poisson regression to test our hypothesis while controlling for individual- and neighbourhood-level characteristics.
We identified 148 cases during 565 576 person-years at-risk. Twenty-six per cent of the variation in incidence rates was attributable to neighbourhood-level characteristics. Response from the social capital survey was 25.7%. The association between SC&T and schizophrenia was U-shaped. Compared with neighbourhoods with medial levels of SC&T, incidence rates were significantly higher in neighbourhoods with low [incidence rates ratio (IRR) 2.0, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.2–3.3] and high (IRR 2.5, 95% CI 1.3–4.8) levels of SC&T, independent of age, sex, ethnicity, ethnic density, ethnic fragmentation and socio-economic deprivation.
Neighbourhood variation in SC&T was non-linearly associated with the incidence of schizophrenia within an urban area. Neighbourhoods with low SC&T may fail to mediate social stress whereas high SC&T neighbourhoods may have greater informal social control or may increase the risk of schizophrenia for residents excluded from accessing available social capital.
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