Purpose: To examine the associations between adverse interpersonal relationship histories experienced during adolescence and health in young adulthood in a large, nationally representative sample. Methods: Using data from Waves I, II, and III of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, multiple adverse relationship experiences were examined, including high loneliness, low perceived parental support, frequent transitions in romantic relationships (relationship instability), exposure to intimate partner violence, and loss by death of important relationship figures. These histories are assessed, both individually and in a relationship risk index, as predictors of self-reported general health and depressive symptoms at Wave III (ages, 1827), controlling for baseline (Wave I) health and for demographic and health behavior covariates. Results: Net of baseline health and covariates, each type of relationship risk (experienced between Wave I and Wave III) was related to either depression or general health at Wave III, with the strongest effects seen for exposure to intimate partner violence. In addition, a cumulative relationship risk index examining the extent to which youth experienced high levels of multiple relationship risk factors revealed that each additional adverse relationship experience increased the odds of reporting worse mental and general health at Wave III, with increases occurring in an additive manner. Conclusion: Multiple types of adverse relationship experiences predicted increases in poorer general health and depressive symptoms from adolescence to early adulthood. Consistent with a cumulative risk hypothesis, the more types of adverse relationship a youth experienced, the worse were their young adult health outcomes.
- General health
- Interpersonal relationships
- Intimate partner, Violence
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Psychiatry and Mental health
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health