Childhood adversity, social support networks and well-being among youth aging out of care: An exploratory study of mediation

Eran P. Melkman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations

Abstract

The goals of the present study are to examine the relationship between childhood adversity and adult well-being among vulnerable young adults formerly placed in substitute care, and to investigate how characteristics of their social support networks mediate this association. A sample of 345 Israeli young adults (ages 18–25), who had aged out of foster or residential care, responded to standardized self-report questionnaires tapping their social support network characteristics (e.g., network size or adequacy) vis-à-vis several types of social support (emotional, practical, information and guidance), experiences of childhood adversity, and measures of well-being (psychological distress, loneliness, and life satisfaction). Structural equation modelling (SEM) provided support for the mediating role of social support in the relationship between early adversity and adult well-being. Although network size, frequency of contact with its members, satisfaction with support, and network adequacy, were all negatively related to early adversity, only network adequacy showed a major and consistent contribution to the various measures of well-being. While patterns were similar across the types of support, the effects of practical and guidance support were most substantial. The findings suggest that the detrimental long-term consequences of early adversity on adult well-being are related not only to impaired structural aspects of support (e.g., network size), but also to a decreased ability to recognize available support and mobilize it. Practical and guidance support, more than emotional support, seem to be of critical importance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)85-97
Number of pages13
JournalChild Abuse and Neglect
Volume72
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2017
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Care leavers
  • Childhood adversity
  • Social network
  • Social support
  • Well-being

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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