Prevention Science

, Volume 20, Issue 1, pp 41–55 | Cite as

Observed Family and Friendship Dynamics in Adolescence: a Latent Profile Approach to Identifying “Mesosystem” Adaptation for Intervention Tailoring

  • Thomas J. Dishion
  • Chung Jung MunEmail author
  • Thao Ha
  • Jenn-Yun Tein


Nuanced understanding of adolescents’ interpersonal relationships with family and peers is important for developing more personalized interventions that prevent problem behaviors and adjustment issues. We used latent profile analysis (LPA) to classify a community sample of 784 adolescents with respect to their observed relationship dynamics with friends and family using videotaped observations and five-minute audiotaped speech samples collected at ages 16–17. The resulting latent classes served to predict behavioral and emotional health in early adulthood. The LPA of the video- and audio-coded observational variables revealed a three-class model: (1) the healthy relationship group (n = 587), representing low levels of deviant and drug use talk with friends and positive, noncoercive relationship with parents; (2) the disaffected group (n = 90), representing high levels of drug use talk with friends and negativity about their parent(s) in the five-minute speech sample; and (3) the antisocial group (n = 107), representing high levels of deviant talk, drug use talk, coercive joining with friends, and coerciveness in family interactions. In contrast to the healthy relationship group, the disaffected group showed elevated risk for substance use problems and depression and the antisocial group showed higher risk for substance use problems and committing violent crimes in early adulthood. Outcome differences between disaffected and antisocial groups were mostly nonsignificant. We discuss the viability of applying these findings to tailoring and personalizing family-based interventions with adolescents to address key dynamics in the family and friendship relationships to prevent adult substance use problems, depression, and violence.


Intervention tailoring Relationship dynamics Drug use Depression Antisocial behaviors Observation 



A grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (5R01DA07031) and a grant from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse & Alcoholism (5R01AA022071) provided funding for this project and supported the authors for their work on this paper.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Dr. Dishion was the developer of the Family Check-Up model, which was key to this research. However, the impact of intervention was not the topic of this study, and therefore, there is no conflict of interest. All authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

The Institutional Review Boards at the University of Oregon and the Oregon Research Institute approved all research procedures. All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Participants learned of the research procedures and all individual participants included in the study provided informed consent.

Supplementary material

11121_2018_927_MOESM1_ESM.docx (22 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 22 kb)


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Copyright information

© Society for Prevention Research 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas J. Dishion
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Chung Jung Mun
    • 3
    • 4
    Email author
  • Thao Ha
    • 1
    • 3
  • Jenn-Yun Tein
    • 1
  1. 1.REACH InstituteArizona State UniversityTempeUSA
  2. 2.Oregon Research InstituteEugeneUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyArizona State UniversityTempeUSA
  4. 4.Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral SciencesJohns Hopkins School of MedicineBaltimoreUSA

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