Does Coping Mediate the Relationship Between Adolescent-Parent Communication and Adolescent Internalizing Symptoms?

  • Ashley Pantaleao
  • Christine McCauley Ohannessian
Original Paper


The primary goal of this study was to examine the relationship between adolescent-parent communication and adolescent internalizing problems. Both gender of the adolescent and gender or the parent were considered. An additional goal was to explore whether coping skills mediated this relationship. The sample included a community sample of 980 U.S. high school students. Surveys were administered during three annual assessment waves in seven public high schools during the spring of 2007 (Time 1), 2008 (Time 2), and 2009 (Time 3). Path analysis results indicated significant direct effects only for same-sex adolescent-parent dyads. For boys, adolescent-father communication predicted depressive and anxiety symptoms. Coping did not mediate these relationships. For girls, adolescent-mother communication predicted anxiety symptoms. Further, this relationship was mediated by humor coping. Adolescent-mother communication also predicted depressive symptoms via instrumental social support for girls. These results align with social learning theory and suggest that family-based interventions with same-sex adolescent-parent dyads are warranted to prevent internalizing problems in adolescents.


Family communication Coping Anxiety Depression Adolescents 



The authors would like to acknowledge the school and students who participated in the study. We are grateful go to members of the AAP staff, especially Jessica Schulz, Kelly Cheeseman, Lisa Fong, Alyson Cavanaugh, Sara Bergamo, Ashley Malooly, and Ashley Ings.

Author Contributions

A.P. conducted the data analyses and wrote the paper. C.M.O. designed the initial dataset used in the analyses and collaborated in the writing of this paper.


This study was funded by the National Institutes of Health (grant number K01-AA015059).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional research committee at the University of Delaware and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional research committee at the University of Delaware and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Family ScienceUniversity of MarylandCollege ParkUSA
  2. 2.Center for Behavioral HealthConnecticut Children’s Medical CenterHartfordUSA
  3. 3.Departments of Pediatrics and PsychiatryUniversity of Connecticut School of MedicineFarmingtonUSA

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