Disaggregating the distal, proximal, and time-varying effects of parent alcoholism on children's internalizing symptoms

A. M. Hussong, L. Cai, P. J. Curran, D. B. Flora, Laurie Chassin, R. A. Zucker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


We tested whether children show greater internalizing symptoms when their parents are actively abusing alcohol. In an integrative data analysis, we combined observations over ages 2 through 17 from two longitudinal studies of children of alcoholic parents and matched controls recruited from the community. Using a mixed modeling approach, we tested whether children showed elevated mother- and child-reported internalizing symptoms (a) at the same time that parents showed alcohol-related consequences (time-varying effects), (b) if parents showed greater alcohol-related consequences during the study period (proximal effects), and (c) if parents had a lifetime diagnosis of alcoholism that predated the study period (distal effects). No support for time-varying effects was found; proximal effects of mothers' alcohol-related consequences on child-reported internalizing symptoms were found and distal effects of mother and father alcoholism predicted greater internalizing symptoms among children of alcoholic parents. Implications for the time-embedded relations between parent alcoholism and children's internalizing symptoms are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)335-346
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Abnormal Child Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 2008


  • Integrative data analysis
  • Intergenerational transmission
  • Internalizing symptoms
  • Parent alcoholism
  • Time-varying effects

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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