Early adversity, psychopathology, and latent class profiles of global physical health from preschool through early adolescence

Diana J. Whalen, Andy C. Belden, Rebecca Tillman, Deanna M. Barch, Joan L. Luby

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Objective The purpose of the present report was to describe the longitudinal trajectories of physical health beginning during preschool and continuing into early adolescence; explore whether these trajectories were predicted by psychosocial adversity, family income-to-needs ratio, and psychiatric disorders occurring during the preschool period; and determine whether psychiatric disorders mediated these relations. Methods Participants included 296 children participating in a longitudinal study of early-onset psychopathology spanning 10 years. Semistructured clinical interviews were conducted with caregivers to determine children's psychiatric diagnoses between ages 3 and 6 years. Caregivers also completed annual assessments of their child's physical health problems (ages 3-13) and reported on the family's income and indicators of psychosocial adversity. Results Growth mixture modeling revealed 2 trajectories of physical health problems: a stable, low group (n = 199) and a high, increasing group (n = 57) indicating linear increases in physical health problems from ages 3 to 13. Preschool psychiatric diagnoses (Estimate [Est] = 0.05, p <.001), family income-to-needs ratio (Est = -0.01, p =.012), and psychosocial adversity (Est = 0.02, p =.015) predicted membership in the high, increasing trajectory of physical health problems. Early-onset psychopathology mediated relations between psychosocial adversity and physical health problems (αβ = 0.31, p =.050) and between income-to-needs ratio and physical health problems (αβ = -0.29, p <.021). Conclusions These findings indicate the importance of early indicators of risk: low income-to-needs ratios, high psychosocial adversity, and psychiatric disorders occurring during the preschool period for contributing to increasing physical health problems from preschool through early adolescence. Early-onset psychiatric disorders also mediated relations between psychosocial adversity, income-to-needs ratio, and physical health problems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1008-1018
Number of pages11
JournalPsychosomatic Medicine
Issue number9
StatePublished - Nov 1 2016


  • adversity
  • childhood
  • growth mixture modeling
  • mental health
  • physical health


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