Longitudinal Mediators of a Randomized Prevention Program Effect on Cortisol for Youth from Parentally Bereaved Families

Linda Luecken, Melissa J. Hagan, Irwin Sandler, Jenn-Yun Tein, Tim S. Ayers, Sharlene Wolchik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

10 Scopus citations

Abstract

We recently reported that a randomized controlled trial of a family-focused intervention for parentally bereaved youth predicted higher cortisol output 6 years later relative to a control group of bereaved youth (Luecken et al., Psychoneuroendocrinology 35, 785-789, 2010). The current study evaluated longitudinal mediators of the intervention effect on cortisol 6 years later. Parentally bereaved children (N = 139; mean age, 11.4; SD = 2.4; age range = 8-16 years; male; 61 % Caucasian, 17 % Hispanic, 7 % African American, and 15 % other ethnicities) were randomly assigned to the 12-week preventive intervention (n = 78) or a self-study control (n = 61) condition. Six years later (mean age, 17.5; SD, 2.4), cortisol was sampled as youth participated in a parent-child conflict interaction task. Using four waves of data across the 6 years, longitudinal mediators of the program impact on cortisol were evaluated. Program-induced increases in positive parenting, decreases in child exposure to negative life events, and lower externalizing symptoms significantly mediated the intervention effect on cortisol 6 years later.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)224-232
Number of pages9
JournalPrevention Science
Volume15
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014

Keywords

  • Bereavement
  • Cortisol
  • Intervention
  • Mediation
  • Parental loss

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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