Longitudinal associations between coping strategies and psychopathology in pre-adolescence

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Abstract

Much of the literature investigating the association between coping and psychopathology is cross-sectional, or associations have been investigated in a unidirectional manner; hence, bidirectionality between coping and psychopathology remains largely untested. To address this gap, this study investigated bidirectional relations between coping and psychopathology during pre-adolescence. Participants (N = 532, 51% male) and their primary caregiver both completed questionnaires assessing pre-adolescents’ coping (i.e., avoidant, problem solving, social support seeking) and symptoms of psychopathology (i.e., generalized anxiety, social anxiety, depression, eating pathology) in Wave 1 (Mage = 11.18 years, SD = 0.56, range = 10–12) and Wave 2 (Mage = 12.18 years, SD = 0.53, range = 11–13, 52% male), one year later. Cross-lagged panel models showed child-reported avoidant coping predicted increases in symptoms of generalized and social anxiety, and eating pathology. In separate child and parent models, symptoms of depression predicted increases in avoidant coping. Greater parent-reported child depressive symptoms also predicted decreases in problem solving coping. Taken together, results suggest unique longitudinal associations between coping and psychopathology in pre-adolescence, with avoidant coping preceding increases in symptoms of anxiety and eating pathology, and depressive symptoms predicting later increases in maladaptive coping.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1189-1204
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Youth and Adolescence
Volume50
Issue number6
Early online date29 Oct 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021

Keywords

  • problem solving
  • avoidant coping
  • social support seeking
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • eating pathology

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