Human Development, Family Studies & Counseling

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    Parental warmth and affection as a protective factor against adolescent risky behavior
    (December 2023) Villarreal, Keilah Christine 1977-; Jones, Adam; Hwang, Shann-Hwa; Armstrong , Joyce; Moore, Lin
    Families all around the world strive for the child to become independent as they approach adulthood. The present research investigated the specific protective factor of affection on a range adolescent risky behaviors. In particular, adolescence is a time in a child’s development in which many parents lean on more limits, in order to minimize the opportunity for risky behaviors and negative outcomes. Parents who negatively reveal their stress during communication with their adolescent(s), increasingly mirror negative patterns of communication. Respectful support creates an environment where warmth and affection are welcomed and celebrated. Parenting trends change. Practitioners can focus on qualities and characteristics that families can autonomously incorporate those into parenting patterns, instead of confining parents to prescriptive methods that may not fit each family’s culture or norms. Past research has focused on early interactions, parenting behaviors during the childhood years, and targeted adolescent behaviors. More research is needed on specific parent behaviors and protective factors that lead to positive adolescent adjustment, specifically lower risky behavior levels. A series of negative binomial generalized linear mixed models were conducted in order to determine the interaction outcomes of the moderating variables M on variable Y and X (M, moderating variables: age, marital status, and stress level; X, independent variables: perceived parental warmth and affection; Y, dependent variable: adolescent risky behavior).
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    Coparenting through conflict: An evaluation of an intervention for high-conflict court-connected family systems
    (December 2023) Watts, Robin Machelle 1969-; Dr. Catherine Dutton; Armstrong , Joyce; Brown, Melissa McInnis
    Over the last decade, researchers have investigated the impact of high-conflict coparenting dynamics on children living in dual-household family systems. Subsequently, a large body of evidence has demonstrated that children exposed to ongoing interparental conflict are at an increased risk of experiencing developmental difficulties, including emotional and behavioral maladjustment, and reduced academic achievement (Amato & Anthony, 2014; Becher et al., 2019; Cummings & Davies, 2010; Smyth & Moloney, 2019). In an effort to provide empirical support for an intervention designed for high-conflict families, the purpose of this research study was to explore the experiences of parents who completed the in-person New Ways for Families® in Separation or Divorce program. The NWFF® program is designed to teach dual-household parents the skills they need to protect their children from the adverse effects of interparental conflict while at the same time preserving the parents’ and court’s resources (Eddy, 2009). An interpretive phenomenological qualitative research design was used, implementing an emergent and exploratory focus. Three main themes and twelve subthemes were identified: (1) Family Relationships (Improving the Coparenting Relationship and Improving the Parent-Child Relationship), (2) What Parents Found Helpful (Individual Meetings, Homework Assignments, Practitioner Support, Joint Parent Session, and Joint Parent-Child Sessions), and (3) Suggestions for Program Improvement (Extend Program Length, Expand Program Content, Require Participation of Both Parents and Collaboration with Other Professionals).
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    An assessment of placement stability via the child and family services review
    (December 2023) Jackson, Simone LeeAnn; Armstrong , Joyce; Gillum, Nerissa L; Dutton, Catherine
    The federal government has enacted several policies to support the stable placement of children in the child welfare system. From mandating that substitute care providers are “adequately prepared” to enacting a nationwide child welfare monitoring system, the need to ensure the proper care of children in the child welfare system is apparent. The Child and Family Services Review (CFSR) was created to monitor state compliance with federal child welfare mandates and improve state child welfare systems. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the CFSR data to identify improvements in state child welfare systems in areas critical to placement stability. A mixed-methods approach was utilized to assess the data from 41 states (n = 41). A profile analysis was run to analyze changes in the percentage of placement stability, educational needs, physical health, and mental health cases rated as a strength across CFSR rounds. A directive content analysis was then conducted to identify themes in state program improvement plans (n = 15) when placement stability was rated as an area of concern. Placement stability and related variables overall did not improve across CFSR rounds. Themes emerged from the data that showed states focus on developing state compliance strategies, improving pre-service placement selection, increasing staff and provider preparation when looking to improve placement stability. Implications of the study focus on how future research should further define federal policy on adequate substitute care provider preparation and the overall implementation of the CFSR. Policy and practice implications highlight the importance of policy in serving as a means to impact family level outcomes and the necessity of utilizing child welfare staff to facilitate this process
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    A post-intentional study of telesupervision experiences of marginalized mental health supervisees
    (December 2023) Thompson, Carol Elise 1965-; Aaron Norton; Catherine Dutton; Rebecca Lucero-Jones
    The field of professional mental health providers is growing more diverse, and the method of providing supervision to beginning therapists and trainees has become often characterized by a videoconferencing or telesupervision format (Lebensohn-Chialvo et al., 2021; Phillips et al., 2021). There is a need to research and better understand the diversity considerations of telesupervision (Phillips et al., 2021). This phenomenological study provides an exploration into how mental health supervisees who hold one or more marginalized identities experience telesupervision. Seven mental health supervisees participated in one focus group and in follow-up individual interviews. A post-intentional phenomenological inquiry provided the lens for data analyzation. Feminist theory, feminist family therapy and supervision concepts, and telehealth principles also inform the inquiry method. ). Four production themes emerged from the data analysis of the supervisee’s telesupervision experiences. These themes are (a) influences of format on experience, (b) impact on supervisory relationship, (c) connections to self-of-thetherapists concerns, and (d) perceptions of the effect on the field. In addition, three provocation themes surfaced. These themes are (a) requests for more leadership, (b) suggestions for improvement, and (c) professional development opportunities. These resulting themes provide a valuable snapshot of beneficial and challenging supervision practices for underrepresented supervisees. The information provided by the supervisee participants will inform supervisors, iii supervisor training programs, and underrepresented supervisees on ways to improve and maintain competent telesupervision experiences.
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    Intergenerational processes of sexual agency and sexual satisfaction with parent-youth dyads, moderated by intersecting identities
    (December 2023) Eddy, Holly E. 12-07-1987-; Jones, Adam; Norton, Aaron; Dutton, Catherine; Verdín, Azucena
    To date, an insufficient amount of research takes a contemporary stance towards youth (operationalized as adolescence and early emerging adulthood) sexuality by viewing sexual exploration as a normative, ethical, and foundational imperative for developing satisfying and healthy sexual relationships in adulthood (Bay-Cheng, 2019; Halpern, 2023). Despite youth sexual development at the intersection of family and broader socio-cultural systems (Kaestle et al., 2021), familial and sociocultural influences on youth sexual agency and sexual satisfaction have been predominantly examined from single-axis viewpoints. Thus, there is a profound need for these constructs to be explored within a feminist-informed family systems framework. This study examined sexual agency, sexual satisfaction, and intersecting identities using a sample from the German Panel Analysis of Intimate Relationships and Family Dynamics (pairfam; Brüderl et al., 2022; Huinink et al., 2011). An actor-partner interdependence moderation model (Garcia et al., 2015; Kenny et al., 2006) and latent structural equation modeling (Klein & Moosbrugger, 2000; Maslowsky et al., 2014) was utilized to examine how the latent moderating variable of social class impacts the strength and direction of the relationship between sexual agency and sexual satisfaction within parent-youth dyads. Understanding the relationship between intersecting identities, intergenerational processes, sexual agency, and sexual satisfaction could inform specific interventions for parents and youth. Examining positive facets of sexual well-being (i.e., sexual agency and sexual satisfaction) may counterintuitively yield insight into preventative measures against sexual risk (Harden, 2014). Finally, clinical implications and future steps were considered.
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    The role of special child services in extremely preterm children's neurodevelopment and behavior
    (December 2023) Tolentino-Plata, Kristine Aileen 1988-; Elizabeth McCarroll, Ph.D., CCLS; Azucena Verdín, Ph.D.; Rhonda Buckley, Ph.D
    The current study investigated the potential moderating effect of special child services, such as early childhood intervention, speech therapy, occupational therapy, and physical therapy on the neurodevelopmental and behavioral skills of extremely preterm children. While survival rates of preterm infants have increased due to advancements in neonatal intensive care and perinatal technology, the risk of moderate to severe neurodevelopmental impairments, behavioral problems, and complex medical issues has also increased (Bell et al., 2022; Niklasson et al., 2003). Early detection and intervention for neurodevelopmental delays and behavioral difficulties are crucial, but community resources may be lacking after discharge from the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (Fefferman et al., 2017; Forsythe & Willis, 2008). The study aimed to identify the contribution of special child services in improving the neurodevelopmental and behavioral outcomes of extremely preterm children and to encourage early detection and intervention. The present study found that early intervention programs did not serve as a moderator in the association between cognitive skills and internalizing or externalizing problem behaviors. Additionally, speech therapy did not serve as a moderator in the association between communication skills and problem behaviors. However, occupational and/or physical therapy served as a moderator in the association between motor skills and externalizing problem behaviors, but not internalizing problem behaviors.
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    Examining educators’ attitudes toward trauma-informed care and educators’ secondary traumatic stress
    (August 2023) Clay, Shaleen; Moore, Lin; Armstrong , Joyce; Thompson, Josh; Lisenbee, Peggy
    This study examined the relationship between teachers’ attitudes toward trauma-informed care and teachers' self-reported levels of secondary traumatic stress. Albert Bandura’s social cognitive theory and Bronfenbrenner’s bioecological theory were used as frameworks for this study. A purposive sample of 132 early childhood and elementary education teachers and teacher assistants actively teaching in Pre-Kindergarten (three and four-year-olds) through sixth grade within the state of Texas participated in the study. The study included six public school districts and two Head Start programs. The Attitudes Related to Trauma-Informed Care Scale (ARTIC-45) (Baker et al., 2015; Traumatic Stress Institute, 2022) and the Secondary Traumatic Stress Scale (STSS) (Bride et al., 2007) were used as instruments in this study. The ARTIC-45 Scale was used to measure teachers’ and teaching assistants’ attitudes toward trauma-informed care and the STSS was used to measure teachers’ and teaching assistants’ self-reported levels of secondary traumatic stress. Teachers and teaching assistants reported significant differences in secondary traumatic stress by grade level, age, and years of experience. Significant differences were reported in attitudes related to trauma-informed care by age and years of experience but not by grade level. A negative correlation was found between teachers’ and teaching assistants’ reported levels of secondary traumatic stress on the STSS and teachers’ and teaching assistants’ attitudes toward trauma-informed care on the ARTIC-45 Scale.
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    The impact of gender role expectations on South Asian American women: A quantitative study
    (August 2023) Somani, Zahra 1984-; Jones, Adam; Norton, Aaron; Dimple Vadgama
    First- and second-generation South Asian immigrant women face conflicting messages outside of their homes where they are educated within and socialized to the individualist value system of the West. Previous research has shown that the zenith of this cultural conflict is in the practice of dating and marriage, which can cause significant internal and intergenerational stress for both parents and their children. The present study measured the internal conflict experienced by women around gender role expectations and how this conflict impacted their well-being, romantic relationships, and attitudes toward sex. Our results indicated a significant negative relationship between gender role conflict and well-being and attitudes toward sex. We also found that women who were less acculturated had less conflict about gender roles and as a result, overall higher well-being. Conversely, women who had lived in the U.S. longer had higher levels of gender role conflict and lower levels of well-being.
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    Uncovering the lived experience of marriage and family therapists working with incarcerated youth: A phenomenological approach
    (August 2023) Pryor, Jaida; Dr. Rebecca Lucero Jones; Dr. Azucena Verdin; Dr. Adam Jones
    The United States incarcerates the highest proportion of adolescents in the world. Within the population of adolescents who are incarcerated, youth with diagnosable mental illness are overrepresented compared to the general population. Though youth arrest rates have declined greatly since the turn of the 21st century, youth recidivism rates have been consistent for the past 40 years. Existing literature suggests that family therapy for youth has positive impacts on recidivism rates as well as reintegration back into their communities after being released. Marriage and family therapists (MFTs) are uniquely trained to deliver therapeutic services which include entire family systems and can support adolescents and their families in reaping the benefits of family therapy in prison settings. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to uncover the lived experience of MFTs as a means of ascertaining a clearer picture of the present state of family therapy being delivered to incarcerated youth by MFTs. Several major themes related to the experiences of Marriage and Family Therapists who have experience working with incarcerated youth emerged through this study: (a) inadequate training, (b) influence of correctional staff, (c) importance of family involvement, (d) influence of employee retention, (e) and development of a growth mindset. Additionally, seven subthemes emerged. The findings of this study may have implications for future research, policy, and practice and are discussed.
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    The impact of a partner's problematic pornography use on a religious woman: A constructivist grounded theory exploration
    (August 2023) Hastings, Heidi F. 1967-; Lucero-Jones, Rebecca; Dutton, Catherine; Norton, Aaron
    Empirical research suggests that pornography use often becomes problematic for men, and their partners may experience feelings of betrayal that result in physiological and psychological manifestations of severe distress. A significant number of cisgender heterosexual married couples are negatively impacted by and seek therapeutic treatment for problematic pornography use (PPU: Ayers & Haddock, 2009). Religion has been linked to increased distress in male pornography users (Grubbs et al., 2017; Grubbs et al., 2018); however, their female partners have been largely overlooked in the existing body of pornography research. The purpose of this study is to understand the unique experiences of religious women and pornography use by a partner. The research question, “How do religious women navigate the experience of a husband’s problematic pornography use?” was analyzed using constructivist grounded theory (CGT). Identity development theories and feminist hermeneutics were used as launching points. Through an iterative analysis and comparison process, a theory illuminating the process before, during, and after the discovery of a husband’s PPU has emerged from the data, suggesting a developmental aspect to her experience. The Religious Woman’s Betrayal and Self-Development model emerged, highlighting five stages and themes within the woman’s process, including Innocence, Crisis, Aftermath, Healing, and Transformation. Multiple subthemes were identified within each stage. Religious women’s experiences reflect the impact of this phenomenon on their identity, which in part includes aspects of sexuality and religiosity. Some risk factors were identified that made women more vulnerable to trauma and abuse within the marriage. Moreover, shame and silencing were found to keep women in a state of crisis for longer periods of time. However, the interviews reflected that perceptions of self, womanhood, religion, sex, and God evolved over time, influencing how a woman healed and transformed following the discovery of her husband’s PPU. The need for educating clinicians and clergy to be sensitive to the experience of distressed women is discussed.
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    Middle school teacher perspectives of parental involvement during middle school
    (May 2023) Freeman, Taylor; Gillum, Nerissa LeBlanc; Armstrong , Joyce; Dutton, Catherine
    Developmentally appropriate practices of parental involvement during the middle school years are positively related to emotional well-being and academic achievement outcomes in middle school students (Boonk et al., 2018). Unfortunately, the declining rate of parental involvement during middle school reflects an underutilized resource for middle school students and their families (Jeynes, 2022). The purpose of this research was to examine teacher held beliefs of parental involvement during the middle school years. Participants for this research study consisted of 10 currently employed, middle school level teachers. Participants completed a demographic questionnaire and a semi-structured interview developed by the researcher. Interview data were transcribed and were analyzed via the coding methods of descriptive coding and pattern coding. The following four themes were gathered from the data: Parental Involvement During Middle School is Important, Parental Involvement During Middle School Needs Improvement, Parental Involvement During Middle Means Parents are Involved to the Best of their Ability, and COVID-19 had an Impact Upon Parental Involvement During Middle School along with subthemes. Research findings support the notion that parental involvement can be understood as a multidimensional construct (Boonk et al., 2018). Furthermore, findings indicate the need for continued development of parental involvement courses that focus on middle school level involvement during pre-service teacher education programs as well as the need for the continued development of parental involvement programming at the state, district and school levels, amongst others. Practice recommendations and recommendations for future research are discussed.
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    The phenomenological experience of families after a suicide loss
    (May 2023) Titsworth, Lauren Alisha 1989-; Dutton, Catherine; Dutton, Catherine; Huelett, Brittany; Lucero-Jones, Rebecca
    This study applied interpretative phenomenological analysis to understand the lived experiences of families who experienced a suicide loss of a child/sibling. Though research on the individual experiences of suicide loss exists, there is limited understanding of the systemic family experience and how the family restructures after losing a member. The purpose of this study was to examine the experience of families who lost a child/sibling to suicide and how the family system changed during the bereavement process. Participants consisted of six families and included 14 family members from the United States and Canada. Data was gathered through family interviews, with two to three family members in each system, via a semi-structured face-to-face or videoconference interview. Data analysis occurred through the lens of interpretative phenomenological analysis by transcribing interviews from audio recordings, coding, locating personal experiential themes and subthemes, cluster charting, and researcher interpretation of the experiences. Family interviews showed four themes: adult children shifting family roles, changes in how the family interacts with one another, navigating lasting change after a suicide, and the change experience of suicide loss survivors during the COVID-19 pandemic. The results contribute to mental health clinicians’ understanding of a family’s needs after a suicide loss in hopes of creating a more positive experience for families in therapy and creating a safe space for the system to work through changes.
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    Pre-kindergarten instructional classroom interactions associated with phonological awareness and vocabulary knowledge
    (May 2023) Cuervo, Margarita B. 1967-; Lisenbee, Peggy; Norton, Aaron; Moore, Lin
    The quantitative study examined 325 classroom scores of phonological awareness and vocabulary knowledge across time at the beginning (BOY), middle (MOY), and end (EOY) of the year in Pre-kindergarten (Pre-K). The study also investigated the association between Pre-K classroom instructional interactions that supported phonological awareness and vocabulary knowledge. Structural equation modeling autoregressive results yielded that vocabulary scores at BOY, MOY, and EOY were significantly associated with the specific time points and stable across time. The phonological awareness scores at BOY, MOY, and EOY were significantly associated with the specific time points but not stable across time. Cross-lag analyses revealed that phonological awareness and vocabulary were not bidirectional. Phonological awareness was associated with vocabulary across all time points, but vocabulary was not associated with phonological awareness and showed no relationship across time. Moderation analyses showed that instructional support classroom interactions did not moderate Pre-K classroom scores of vocabulary and phonological awareness.
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    Distinct but linked: How friendships contribute to personal growth through the lens of interpersonal neurobiology
    (December 2022) Corbin, Emily Marie 9/26/1986-; Dr. Aaron Norton; Dutton, Catherine; Vittrup , Brigitte
    The purpose of this study was to integrate diverse fields of thought to demonstrate how friendships uniquely promote personal growth through the lens of interpersonal neurobiology (IPNB). This study utilized quantitative methodology with a cross-sectional survey from the third wave of Midlife in the United States (MIDUS 3) to investigate whether neural and social integration mediated the effects between friendship and personal growth. Friendships were shown to contribute meaningfully to personal growth above and beyond the role of intrapersonal factors, as supported through a hierarchical linear regression. Also, the influence of friendships on personal growth was partially mediated through neural and social integration, as revealed through a parallel mediation model using the PROCESS syntax. Results from these analyses supported all research hypotheses and indicate that friendships contribute to personal growth through both neural and social integration.
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    Experiences of parents forced into emergency remote instruction during COVID-19
    (December 2022) Gutierrez-Woods, Joseph Mia 78-; Dutton, Catherine; Snider, Sharla; Hwang, Abraham
    The phenomenon of Emergency Remote Instruction (ERI) is not new, but in 2020 it was experienced at a historic scale. The purpose of this study was to examine the parent engagement experiences of parents with students in kindergarten through second grade during the COVID-19 school closings and their perceptions of their roles through the lenses of Joyce Epstein’s Parental Involvement Framework and Uri Bronfenbrenner’s Bioecological System’s Theory. Video recordings of the semi-structured interviews were captured, and transcripts were analyzed using three separate coding cycles. Through an interpretive phenomenological analysis (IPA), findings revealed two themes related to parent perceptions of roles they assumed during COVID-19 ERI and shifts in parent engagement approaches based on how schools implemented school closings. This study has implications for increasing parent engagement in schools, improving relationships between home and school, and developing a remote instruction method that incorporates the support of parents based on their feedback.
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    Sexual consent experiences of individuals in committed relationships
    (May 2023) Stokes, Alyssa; Lucero-Jones, Rebecca; Jones, Adam; Huelett, Brittany
    Despite the growing body of research on sexual consent, confusion surrounding the definition and processes of sexual consent still exists. There is also little research to date exploring the relationship between sexual consent, sexual communication, sexual satisfaction, and gender for individuals in committed relationships. This confusion and lack of research may be contributing to high rates of sexual coercion and rape within committed relationships. The present study utilized a moderated mediation analysis to investigate whether consent mediates the relationship between sexual communication and sexual satisfaction, and furthermore, whether that mediation differs for men and women. Sexual consent as a mediator for the relationship between sexual communication and sexual satisfaction was also tested. The study sample included individuals in committed relationships who were recruited through an online questionnaire distributed via Reddit, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or e-mail. The present study found sexual communication leads to sexual satisfaction partially because it helps foster an environment of sexual consent. However, subtle coercion partially explained this relationship between sexual communication and sexual satisfaction for women but not for men. These findings suggest the need for clinicians to assess for sexual coercion in relationships as well as support clinicians in educating couples on how their sexual communication may be impacting their sexual encounters.
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    The concerns of foster children in their foster homes
    (2022-08-01T05:00:00.000Z) Onyirioha, Bukola Anthonia; Gillum, Nerissa L; Armstrong, Joyce; Hwang, Shann_Hwa
    Introduction This study aimed to explore the concerns of foster children in their foster homes. A phenomenological approach was used to explore the lived experiences of former foster children. The study utilized the concepts of developing person and the microsystem of Bronfenbrenner's bioecological model. In this study, there was one research question: What are the concerns of foster children in their foster homes? Ten former foster children participated in a semi-structured interview that occurred via Zoom; each interview was audio recorded. REV transcription services were used to transcribe the interviews verbatim. Bracketing and analyst triangulation were used to help ensure trustworthiness. The following themes emerged based on the responses provided by the former foster children: Questioning My Future With My Biological Family Microsystem; Experiencing Emotional, Behavioral, and Social Issues as a Developing Person; and Unkind Treatment Within My Foster Family and School Microsystems.
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    What are the family financial management experiences among the Ghanaian diaspora in the US?
    (2022-12-01T06:00:00.000Z) Boakye, David; LeBlanc Gillum, Nerissa; Armstrong , Joyce; Dutton, Catherine
    The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore the family financial management experiences of the family members of the Ghanaian diaspora in the US. Bronfenbrenner’s bioecological model was used to navigate the research study process. The research question was What are the family financial management experiences among the Ghanaian diaspora in the US? Ten family members of the Ghanaian diaspora in the US were interviewed using semi-structured interview questions. The interviews were audio recorded, transcribed, and analyzed for themes. Six themes emerged from the data analysis: My parents believed in savings and investments, I had little understanding of financial management while in Ghana, My family and I did not plan for our financial needs before leaving Ghana to live in the US, I came to the US in search of financial well-being, I have a financial obligation to support my family who remains in Ghana and I believe in setting goals for my family’s financial future. The study’s results were compared to existing literature and conclusions were drawn such as family members of the Ghanaian diaspora traveling to the US with limited understanding of family financial management. The study’s strengths, limitations, recommendations for future research and practice, and implications were discussed.
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    The impact of childhood trauma on romantic relationships and the mediating role of the stress response system
    (2022-12-01T06:00:00.000Z) Kendall, Jennifer L; Norton, Aaron; Jones, Adam; Lucero-Jones, Rebecca; Vittrup, Brigitte
    This study aims to expand the current body of research to understand further the underlying biological mechanism that mediates the relationship between experiencing childhood trauma and healthy adult romantic relationships and mental health. Positive relationships and good marital quality have been linked to better health and a lower risk of mortality (Robles & Kiecolt-Glaser, 2003; Robles et al., 2014). At the same time, childhood trauma has been linked with a higher incidence of morbidity and mortality (Grummittet al., 2021). There is no lack of evidence that early experiences of trauma impact relationship health and marital outcomes (Dilillo et al., 2009). The current study will examine these mechanisms using a publicly available data set, Midlife in the United States. Structural Equation Modeling will be utilized to test the relationship between childhood trauma and relationship risk and mental health, mediated by the biological correlate IL-6. Increased levels of IL-6 have been implicated in the activation of the stress response system and emotional dysregulation (Carpenter et al., 2010). Understanding this relationship can improve targeted therapeutic interventions for individuals and couples who have experienced childhood trauma.