The lasting mental health burden of experiencing parental psychological neglect in adolescence


Coppola, Elizabeth C.; Christ, Sharon L.; & Johnson, Abigael M. (2016). The lasting mental health burden of experiencing parental psychological neglect in adolescence. 2016 Add Health Users Conference. Bethesda, MD.


While experiences of caregiver neglect in childhood are implicated in maladaptive psychological and behavioral development, it remains understudied as a type of maltreatment, especially in adolescence. One reason for fewer studies is that neglect is difficult to observe and measure. Neglect may occur in different forms, such as physical, psychological/emotional, and supervisory. The psychological neglect subtype includes a lack of warmth, nurturance, and support from caregivers. Neglect is the most common type of child maltreatment in the US and the incidence of the psychological neglect subtype more than doubled in the US between 1993 and 2006 (ACF). For these reasons, measuring psychological caregiving, including neglect, and evaluating the role it plays in mental health is important. We developed a measure of parental psychological caregiving that captures the full range of care, including psychological neglect, using youth reported items from Waves I and II of the Add Health study and confirmatory factor analysis. We will evaluate how psychological neglect experience in adolescence relates to psychological health trajectories throughout adolescence and into adulthood using outcomes from all waves of the Add Health study. Three domains of mental health will be simultaneously evaluated: suicide proclivity, depression, and self-esteem. We hypothesize that psychological neglect (lack of care) in adolescence, conditioned on retrospective reports of other types of maltreatment in childhood (from Waves III and IV), will be linked to an elevated risk of suicide and depression, and lower levels of self-esteem. We also expect these negative impacts to have lasting effects into adulthood.


Reference Type

Conference proceeding

Book Title

2016 Add Health Users Conference


Coppola, Elizabeth C.
Christ, Sharon L.
Johnson, Abigael M.

Year Published


City of Publication

Bethesda, MD

Reference ID