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Title:The assessment of psychological vulnerability in adolescents: An alternative to genetic high-risk methodology
Author(s):Renders, Robin Joy
Department / Program:Psychology, Physiological
Discipline:Psychology, Physiological
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Psychology, Physiological
Abstract:The present research was designed within the framework of the diathesis-stress model of psychopathology which assumes that manifest psychopathology is the result of the interaction of stress with a latent vulnerability. Previous research has relied on a genetic risk criterion, selecting as subjects the offspring of parents with diagnosed psychiatric disorder; however, this procedure results in a fundamentally biased sample.
The present research explores the utility of an alternative high risk methodology, in which the vulnerability of subjects is measured directly in terms of the subjects' own characteristics. It was hypothesized that psychological vulnerability could be predicted by aspects of peer and family relationships.
Subjects consisted of four groups of adolescents selected on the basis of a screening instrument to represent a control group and three levels of vulnerability. A short-term prospective design was used with subjects assessed at intervals encompassing the transition to high school.
Vulnerability was assessed with structured interviews on the intimacy of friendships and social network patterns as well as family environment. Psychological vulnerability was assessed with a subclinical scale and self-esteem scale. Manifest psychological distress was measured in terms of symptomatology and diagnostic status. School records provided an additional index of adjustment.
The repeated measures Manova resulted in significant overall main effects for Group and Time, providing strong support for the validity and discriminability of the screening process. Significant group effects were also found with the subclinical scale supporting the relationship between psychological vulnerability and friendship and family relationships.
The significant Time effect resulted mostly from a significant decrease in general friendship contact across groups. Thus friendship vulnerability appeared quite susceptible to the impact of stress, while family vulnerability remained stable. The subjects who experienced the greatest difficulty were those who lost contact with friends and reported weaker or conflicted family relationships. Overall, this research offers substantial support for an innovation in high risk research that is based on an interpersonal psychological risk criterion rather than a genetic risk criterion.
Issue Date:1989
Rights Information:Copyright 1989 Renders, Robin Joy
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI8924927
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI8924927

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