OBJECTIVES. Recent changes in family structure are associated with an increase in psychosocial maladjustment in adolescents. We examined, from a public health intervention perspective, the association between family breakup and psychosocial maladjustment in adolescents and assessed the mediating role of family-functioning variables.

METHODS. We analyzed data from the Social and Health Survey of Children and Adolescents in Quebec, Montreal, Canada, which was conducted in 1999. Sample-weighted logistic regression analyses were performed to determine the risk of internalizing disorders, externalizing disorders, substance abuse, and alcohol consumption in relation to family breakups and family-functioning variables, after adjusting for socioeconomic factors.

RESULTS. All 4 of the indicators of psychosocial maladjustment were significantly associated with family breakup. The association between family breakups and internalizing disorders was mediated by parental psychological distress and low paternal emotional support. Independently, the witnessing of interparental violence was also strongly associated with internalizing disorders. For the other 3 outcomes, that is, externalizing disorders, substance abuse, and alcohol consumption, family breakup and family-functioning variables had independent effects.

CONCLUSIONS. Family-based interventions and social approaches are complementary support modalities for adolescents experiencing family disruptions.

You do not currently have access to this content.