Somatic Complaints and Chinese-American Adolescents: Examining the Role of Parent-child Relationships



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Mental health needs of Asian-American youth have been documented as substantial and increasing, but limited research has identified explanatory mechanisms or possible targets of intervention for reducing mental health symptoms. The present study contributed to the limited existing research on self-regulatory abilities as mechanisms that may explain the linkage between Chinese-American parenting styles and adolescent somatization.

A community sample of Chinese-American parent-adolescent dyads (N= 104) residing in the greater Houston, TX area were recruited to complete a battery of questionnaires containing measures of adolescent somatization, self-regulatory abilities, and parental psychological control. Correlational and regression analyses were conducted to test hypothesized relationships and models. Parent-reported emotional and cognitive self-regulatory control variables were found to mediate the relationship between utilization of aspects of both parent and adolescent-reported parental psychological control and parent-reported adolescent somatization. Additionally, lower parent-adolescent Asian values agreement level was found to predict higher parent-reported somatic complaint occurrence. Results suggest that multiple aspects of self-regulation serve as mediating mechanisms by which parenting styles may influence adolescent somatic complaint occurrence. Findings have implications for understanding of pathways to somatization (and mental health outcomes overall) in the Asian-American youth population.