Hostile marital conflict and harsh parenting (family aggression) are highly prevalent. Chronic exposure to family aggression elevates individuals? risk for antisocial and risky behavior, depressed mood, and cognitive decrements. Significant gaps in this research include scarce investigations of long-term developmental trajectories of adaptation and maladaptation associated with exposure to family aggression. Furthermore, explaining variability in trajectories of health in the context of family aggression?why some individuals exhibit resilience and others deteriorate?is a critical need for science and practice. The proposed study addresses these open questions and will illuminate autonomic nervous system activity and sleep regulation parameters (bioregulatory processes), as well as social context variables (socioeconomic status), which may mediate the risk of family aggression or operate to exacerbate or protect against its effects on emotional and behavioral maladjustment from childhood through early adulthood. The design builds on a well-characterized 6-wave study and involves 2 additional waves. The sample consists of youth between 8 and 18 years across the six study waves who will be ~22-23 years at the seventh wave. Strengths of the design include the large and diverse sample, high retention rates, breadth of measurement across important outcome domains, and 8 study waves, permitting analyses of long-term trajectories of mental health, substance use, and cognitive functioning. Constructs are assessed with well-validated measures and procedures. The study will advance understanding of the long-term effects of family aggression; elucidate bioregulatory processes that transmit risk or function as vulnerability or protective factors in the context of family aggression; and document young adult outcomes of family aggression in domains of public health priority, such as substance use and mental health (Healthy People 2020). The diverse community sample allows tests of research questions across a wide range of socioeconomic status. Results will help identify youth at greatest risk for negative mental and behavioral health outcomes in early adulthood and identify family and bioregulatory targets for prevention and intervention.

Public Health Relevance

Family aggression is prevalent and may contribute to antisocial and risky behavior, depressed mood, and cognitive difficulties - significant public health problems. The potential effects of important bioregulatory processes, including autonomic nervous system activity and sleep, on long-term trajectories of health and adaptation in the context of family aggression from childhood through adulthood are essentially unknown. This study will create new knowledge by elucidating the roles of key bioregulatory processes that may mediate the risk of family aggression or operate to exacerbate or ameliorate its effects on health from late childhood through early adulthood.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
Research Project (R01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Psychosocial Development, Risk and Prevention Study Section (PDRP)
Program Officer
Esposito, Layla E
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Auburn University at Auburn
Other Health Professions
Sch Allied Health Professions
United States
Zip Code
Hinnant, J Benjamin; Philbrook, Lauren E; Erath, Stephen A et al. (2018) Approaches to modeling the development of physiological stress responsivity. Psychophysiology 55:e13027
Philbrook, Lauren E; Erath, Stephen A; Hinnant, J Benjamin et al. (2018) Marital conflict and trajectories of adolescent adjustment: The role of autonomic nervous system coordination. Dev Psychol 54:1687-1696
Tu, Kelly M; Elmore-Staton, Lori; Buckhalt, Joseph A et al. (2018) The link between maternal sleep and permissive parenting during late adolescence. J Sleep Res 27:e12676
El-Sheikh, Mona; Kelly, Ryan J (2017) Family Functioning and Children's Sleep. Child Dev Perspect 11:264-269
Tu, Kelly M; Erath, Stephen A; El-Sheikh, Mona (2017) Parental management of peers and autonomic nervous system reactivity in predicting adolescent peer relationships. Dev Psychol 53:540-551
Philbrook, Lauren E; El-Sheikh, Mona (2016) Associations between Neighborhood Context, Physical Activity, and Sleep in Adolescents. Sleep Health 2:205-210
Tu, Kelly M; Erath, Stephen A; El-Sheikh, Mona (2016) Coping responses moderate prospective associations between marital conflict and youth adjustment. J Fam Psychol 30:523-32
Hinnant, J Benjamin; Erath, Stephen A; Tu, Kelly M et al. (2016) Permissive Parenting, Deviant Peer Affiliations, and Delinquent Behavior in Adolescence: the Moderating Role of Sympathetic Nervous System Reactivity. J Abnorm Child Psychol 44:1071-81
Bagley, Erika J; Tu, Kelly M; Buckhalt, Joseph A et al. (2016) Community violence concerns and adolescent sleep. Sleep Health 2:57-62
El?Sheikh, Mona; Tu, Kelly M; Saini, Ekjyot K et al. (2016) Perceived discrimination and youths' adjustment: sleep as a moderator. J Sleep Res 25:70-7

Showing the most recent 10 out of 36 publications