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Parental separation and adult psychological distress: material and relational pathways

Lacey, RE; (2012) Parental separation and adult psychological distress: material and relational pathways. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London).

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Abstract

The association between parental separation occurring during childhood and adult psychological distress is well established, however the potential mechanisms involved in translating the experience of parental separation into the increased risk of reporting psychological distress is unclear and little investigated. Previous literature indicates that material and relational factors may be involved and that these two pathways are likely to be linked across the life course. The identification of the mechanisms involved in the association between parental separation and psychological distress will offer suggestions as to how families and children who undergo separation can best be supported in order to prevent long-term adverse consequences for psychological health. The diversification of family forms since the mid-20th century and in particular the increased chances that a child experiences parental separation in more recent years stimulated the investigation of whether the association between parental separation and adult psychological distress, and the mediating material and relational pathways, has changed over time. It is thought that as separation becomes more common it will have less of an effect upon the children involved. There are few studies which have investigated this with respect to psychological distress and this thesis extends those which do exist methodologically. Analysis of data from three British birth cohorts finds that parental separation is associated with increased chances of reporting psychological distress and this does not differ by gender, age of child or cohort. Examination of mediating pathways shows that both material and relational factors are involved, although material factors particularly so, and that these differ for men and women, and also by cohort. The inter-linkage of material and relational factors across the life course was found to be complex. These findings suggest a need to support separating families, particularly through their educational careers, in order to minimise the long-term consequences for children.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Parental separation and adult psychological distress: material and relational pathways
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Pop Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Pop Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health > Epidemiology and Public Health
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1363349
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