The death of a parent is a profoundly stressful form of childhood adversity, increasing the short- and long-term risk of mental health problems. Emerging research suggests it may also disrupt biological regulatory systems and increase the risk of long-term physical health problems. This article presents a theoretical framework of the process by which the experience of parental death during childhood may influence mental and physical health outcomes over time. Drawing from a broad literature on adaptation following childhood parental loss, we focus on risk and protective factors in the childhood environment that are theoretically and empirically linked to emotional and biological regulatory responses to stress later in life, the effects of which may accumulate to impact long-term health.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Social Psychology