The Interplay Between Adolescent Friendship Quality and Resilient Functioning Following Childhood and Adolescent Adversity

Adversity and Resilience Science

A.-L. van Harmelen, S. J. Blakemore, I. M. Goodyer & R. A. Kievit


Child and adolescent adversity (‘CA’) is a major predictor of mental health problems in adolescence and early adulthood. However, not all young people who have experienced CA develop psychopathology; their mental health functioning can be described as resilient. We previously found that resilient functioning in adolescence following CA is facilitated by adolescent friendships. However, during adolescence, friendships undergo significant change. It is unknown whether resilient functioning after CA fluctuates with these normative changes in friendship quality. We used Latent Change Score Modelling in a large sample of adolescents (i.e. the ROOTS cohort; N = 1238) to examine whether and how emergent friendship quality and resilient functioning at ages 14 and 17 inter-relate and change together. We found that friendships quality and resilient functioning had strong associations at age 14, although friendships at 14 did not predict higher resilient functioning at 17. Higher resilient functioning in 14-year-olds with a history of CA was associated with a positive change in friendships from age 14 to 17. Finally, improvements in friendship quality and resilient functioning went hand-in-hand, even when taking into account baseline levels of both, the change within friendship quality or resilient functioning over time, and the association between resilient functioning and change in friendship quality over time. We show that friendship quality and resilient functioning after CA inter-relate and change together between ages 14 and 17. Our results suggest that improving friendship quality or resilient functioning within this timeframe may benefit this vulnerable adolescent group, and this should be tested in future research.

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