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Supportive role models, coping lead to better health in poor teens

Date:
December 20, 2012
Source:
Society for Research in Child Development
Summary:
While low socioeconomic status is often a strong determinant of chronic disease, new research shows that low-income teenagers who have supportive role models and who use adaptive coping strategies have lower levels of interleukin-6, a marker for cardiovascular risk. The researchers collected data on 163 socioeconomically diverse, healthy Canadian adolescents using interviews, questionnaires, and blood samples. Coping strategies and role models were found to be associated with inflammatory marker interleukin-6 only in low-income teenagers.

Low-income teenagers who have supportive role models and engage in adaptive strategies have lower levels of a marker for cardiovascular risk than low-income teens without such resources, according to a new study.

The study, by researchers at Northwestern University and the University of British Columbia, is published in the journal Child Development.

"Low socioeconomic status is one of the strongest determinants of chronic disease in developed countries," notes Edith Chen, professor of psychology and faculty fellow at the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern University, who led the study. "This study suggests that teaching low-income youths strategies to reframe stressful events more positively and view the future optimistically, known as shift-and-persist strategies, and encouraging them to connect with supportive role models may help reduce the physiological burden of growing up in poor neighborhoods."

The study looked at 163 healthy Canadian teens ages 13 to 16 from a variety of socioeconomic backgrounds. Researchers asked the youths about their role models, had them complete questionnaires about their coping strategies and their thoughts about the future, and drew blood to assess inflammatory markers that predict cardiovascular risk.

Adolescents from low-income families who had supportive role models had lower levels of the inflammatory marker interleukin-6 than those who didn't have such models in their lives. Low-income teens who engaged in shift-and-persist coping strategies also showed lower levels of interleukin-6. These patterns were not seen in youths from high-income families or in youths from low-income families who didn't have these resources.

"This suggests that supportive role models promote shift-and-persist strategies and have physiological benefits specifically in low-income youth," according to Chen.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Society for Research in Child Development. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Edith Chen, William K. Lee, Lisa Cavey and Amanda Ho. Role Models and the Psychological Characteristics That Buffer Low-Socioeconomic-Status Youth From Cardiovascular Risk. Child Development, 2012; DOI: 10.1111/cdev.12037

Cite This Page:

Society for Research in Child Development. "Supportive role models, coping lead to better health in poor teens." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 December 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121220080441.htm>.
Society for Research in Child Development. (2012, December 20). Supportive role models, coping lead to better health in poor teens. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121220080441.htm
Society for Research in Child Development. "Supportive role models, coping lead to better health in poor teens." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121220080441.htm (accessed April 24, 2014).

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