Background Familial risk factors have been implicated in the development of mental health problems in adolescents. Whether the associations between parental loading, as assessed by lifetime psychopathology, and offspring internalising and externalising problems were moderated by family socioeconomic position (SEP) was investigated. Two hypotheses of moderation were tested: (1) the “social push” hypothesis in which parental loading effects are stronger in contexts with low environmental risks and (2) the “vulnerability” hypothesis in which parental loading effects are stronger in high-risk environments.
Method In a population-based sample of 2149, familial loading and family SEP were assessed at baseline by parent reports. Offspring psychopathology was assessed by reports from multiple informants (parent, self and teachers). Multiple linear regression was used to assess the independent associations of parental loading and family SEP on offspring psychopathology and their potential interaction.
Results Both family SEP and familial loading had significant independent main effects on offspring internalising and externalising problems. However, the interaction terms were not significant and did not add any explanatory power to the model.
Conclusions Lower levels of family SEP appear not to confer additional risks for mental health problems in offspring of parents with high loading on psychopathology. During early adolescence, parental psychopathology and low family SEP seem independent risk factors for offspring mental health problems. Results do not support either the social push or vulnerability hypothesis as no evidence of interactions between parental loading and family SEP were found.
- Parental psychopathology
- socioeconomic position
- mental health
- parents CG
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Funding TRAILS was financially supported by various grants from the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research NWO (Medical Research Council programme grant GB-MW 940-38-011; ZonMW Brainpower grant 100-001-004; ZonMw Risk Behavior and Dependence grants 60-60600-98-018 and 60-60600-97-118; ZonMw Culture and Health grant 261-98-710; Social Sciences Council medium-sized investment grants GB-MaGW 480-01-006 and GB-MaGW 480-07-001; Social Sciences Council project grants GB-MaGW 457-03-018, GB-MaGW 452-04-314 and GB-MaGW 452-06-004; NWO large-sized investment grant 175.010.2003.005); the Sophia Foundation for Medical Research (projects 301 and 393), the Dutch Ministry of Justice (WODC) and the participating universities (University Medical Center and University of Groningen, Erasmus University Medical Center Rotterdam, University of Utrecht, Radboud Medical Center Nijmegen and Trimbos Institute, all in the Netherlands).
Competing interests None.
Patient consent Obtained.
Ethics approval TRAILS was approved by the Central Committee on Research Involving Human Subjects, University Medical Centre, Groningen.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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