Physical health vulnerability in adult children from divorced and intact families

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

14 Scopus citations


Objectives: The current study evaluated family process variables associated with markers of physical health vulnerability. Methods: Retrospective reports of parental caring, conflict, and divorce-specific factors were examined in reference to hostility, somatic symptoms, and illness reports in young adults from divorced (n=253) and intact (n=552) families. Results: Contrary to expectations, participants from divorced and intact families were equivalent on all health-related measures. Within the intact group, parental conflict and low parental caring were associated with hostility, somatic symptoms, and illness reports. Within the divorce group, negative feelings about the divorce were associated with higher hostility, somatic complaints, and illness reports. Conclusions: Results suggest that parental divorce in itself does not increase long-term vulnerability to physical illness; rather it is the negativity of the experience that is associated with vulnerability. Although overall health markers did not differ, the family process variables associated with physical health risk differed for individuals from divorced versus intact families.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)221-228
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Psychosomatic Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2003



  • Conflict
  • Divorce
  • Health
  • Hostility
  • Parental caring

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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