Chronic health conditions and adolescents’ social connectedness

Publication Year


Journal Article

This study investigated associations between chronic developmental/behavioral and physical health conditions and social connectedness of adolescents using rich population-based data from a national U.S. birth cohort study. Potentially disabling health conditions were reported by caregivers and categorized by our team as developmental/behavioral or physical. Social connectedness was assessed using a validated scale that measured adolescents’ reports of positive social connectedness across relevant contexts (family, friends, school). Of the 3,207 adolescents included, over one third had at least one chronic health condition. Unadjusted and adjusted linear and logistic regression models of associations between the presence of chronic health conditions (any developmental/behavioral health condition and any physical health condition, compared to no conditions) and adolescents’ social connectedness outcomes were estimated. Compared to those with no chronic health conditions, adolescents with developmental/behavioral health conditions had lower odds of high positive social connectedness scores (adjusted odds ratio [AOR]: 0.80; CI [0.67, 0.94]), having friends they really care about (AOR: 0.76; CI [0.61, 0.94]), having people who care (AOR: 0.65; CI [0.50, 0.84]), and having people with whom to share good news (AOR: 0.77; CI [0.63, 0.94]). Adolescents with chronic physical health conditions had lower odds of reporting having people who care about them (AOR: 0.72; CI [0.55, 0.94]). The findings point to the need for interventions designed to foster the development of positive interpersonal relationships, reduce loneliness, and increase positive social identity among adolescents with chronic health conditions, particularly those with developmental/behavioral health conditions. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2024 APA, all rights reserved)

American Journal of Orthopsychiatry