Within the field of relationship science there is increasing interest in the connections between close relationships and physical health. In the present study, we examined whether adolescents’ (∼12 years old) and young adults’ (∼20 years old) perceptions of their parents as a secure base prospectively predict C-reactive protein (CRP), a commonly used marker of inflammatory activity, at age 32 in a well-characterized sample of African Americans. We utilized existing data collected as part of the Maryland Adolescent Development in Context Study (MADICS) to construct measures of perceptions of parental secure base support (SBS), general parental support, and peer support in early adolescence and early adulthood. In the present study, SBS was operationalized as the perceived ability to depend on parents in times of need. Fifty-nine African American MADICS participants who reported on perceived support in early adolescence and early adulthood participated in a follow-up home visit at age 32 during which serum CRP was measured via a blood draw. After controlling for inflammation-related confounds (e.g., tobacco use, body mass index), adolescents’ perceptions of parental SBS, but not peer support or general parental support, predicted lower CRP values at age 32 (b = −.92, SE =.34, p <.05). None of the support variables in early adulthood predicted CRP at 32 years. This study adds to a growing literature on relationships and health-related outcomes and provides the first evidence for a link between parental SBS in adolescence and a marker of inflammatory activity in adulthood.
- C-reactive protein
- relationships and health
- secure base
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Social Psychology
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Sociology and Political Science