Poster Paper: Differentiating Between Forms of Early Adversity in Two Vulnerable Samples

Saturday, November 10, 2018
Exhibit Hall C - Exhibit Level (Marriott Wardman Park)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Tyler C. Hein1, Melissa K. Peckins1, Rebecca Waller1, Leigh G. Goetschius1, Daniel Shaw2, Erika E. Forbes2, Nestor L. Lopez-Duran1, Vonnie C. McLoyd1, Colter Mitchell1, Luke W. Hyde1 and Christopher S. Monk1, (1)University of Michigan, (2)University of Pittsburgh

Introduction: Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), including child maltreatment and loss of a parent, are linked to increased risk for many negative outcomes, such as depression, heart disease, and poor academic achievement (CDC, 2016). A striking 2/3 of children experience at least one ACE (CDC, 2016), establishing an urgent public policy need to build programs and policies that focus on preventing and intervening following ACEs. One barrier to effective policy and program development is that ACEs include a wide range of experiences; it is unlikely that a single policy or program will be effective (Child Trends, 2018). The Dimensional Model of Adversity and Psychopathology (DMAP; McLaughlin, Sheridan, & Lambert, 2014) proposes separating adversities along two different dimensions: threat (e.g., physical abuse, community violence) and deprivation (e.g., neglect, lack of cognitive stimulation). However, few studies have tested whether threat and deprivation can be separately assessed in vulnernable populations of children who experience high rates of ACEs. The current study tested whether separate threat and deprivation dimensions could be differentiated within two independent and diverse samples of children growing up in low-resourced environments.

Methods: Sample 1 consisted of 310 boys and their mothers from the Pitt Mother and Child Project, a longitudinal study of child vulnerability and resilience in low-income families from Pittsburgh (Shaw et al., 2003). Measures of parenting, neighborhood characteristics, demographic information, and family relationships were used from ages 1.5, 2, 3.5, and 5 years to create latent factors of threat and deprivation in early childhood.

Sample 2 consisted of 4,898 children and their primary caregivers from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study, a longitudinal study of unmarried parents and their children (Reichman, Teitler, Garfinkel, & McLanahan, 2001). We used measures of child maltreatment, family relationships, and neighborhood characteristics at ages 3, 5, and 9 to create latent factors of threat and social deprivation in childhood.

For both samples, we performed confirmatory factor analysis to create latent factors of threat and deprivation. We contrasted model fit for a two-factor threat and deprivation model and a one-factor combined threat and deprivation model f that resembled a cumulative risk or ACEs approach.

Results: In sample 1, the two-factor model of threat and deprivation in early childhood showed significantly better fit relative to the single factor model (p < .05), implying that threat and deprivation formed separable factors (model fit: c2=20.98, df=17, p>0.05, CFI/TLI=0.98/0.97, RMSEA=0.03).

In sample 2, the two-factor model of threat and social deprivation in childhood also fit better than the one-factor model (p<.05) showing acceptable model fit (c2 = 655.94, df = 115, p < 0.05, CFI/TLI = 0.90/0.87, RMSEA = 0.03).

Conclusion: In two separate samples of vulnerable families at increased risk of experiencing multiple co-occurring adversities, we found that threat and deprivation are separable constructs. The DMAP thus provides an approach for researchers to evaluate both consequences and the effects of intervention for qualitatively different ACEs, which could yield more effective policies and programs.