Prevention Science

, Volume 15, Issue 2, pp 224–232 | Cite as

Longitudinal Mediators of a Randomized Prevention Program Effect on Cortisol for Youth from Parentally Bereaved Families

  • Linda J. Luecken
  • Melissa J. Hagan
  • Irwin N. Sandler
  • Jenn-Yun Tein
  • Tim S. Ayers
  • Sharlene A. Wolchik


We recently reported that a randomized controlled trial of a family-focused intervention for parentally bereaved youth predicted higher cortisol output 6 years later relative to a control group of bereaved youth (Luecken et al., Psychoneuroendocrinology 35, 785–789, 2010). The current study evaluated longitudinal mediators of the intervention effect on cortisol 6 years later. Parentally bereaved children (N = 139; mean age, 11.4; SD = 2.4; age range = 8–16 years; male; 61 % Caucasian, 17 % Hispanic, 7 % African American, and 15 % other ethnicities) were randomly assigned to the 12-week preventive intervention (n = 78) or a self-study control (n = 61) condition. Six years later (mean age, 17.5; SD, 2.4), cortisol was sampled as youth participated in a parent–child conflict interaction task. Using four waves of data across the 6 years, longitudinal mediators of the program impact on cortisol were evaluated. Program-induced increases in positive parenting, decreases in child exposure to negative life events, and lower externalizing symptoms significantly mediated the intervention effect on cortisol 6 years later.


Parental loss Bereavement Cortisol Intervention Mediation 



Support for this research was provided by NIMH R01 grant MH49155 and P30 MH0686856


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Copyright information

© Society for Prevention Research 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Linda J. Luecken
    • 1
  • Melissa J. Hagan
    • 1
  • Irwin N. Sandler
    • 1
  • Jenn-Yun Tein
    • 1
  • Tim S. Ayers
    • 1
  • Sharlene A. Wolchik
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyArizona State UniversityTempeUSA

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