308 Adolescent Interpersonal Stress & later health risks

Based on research done by Fuligni, Andrew., Telzer, Eva., Bower, Julienne., Cole, Steve., Kiang, Lisa., & Irwin, Michael, (2009), written by Bethany Wellman, M.S.

Puberty and the teenage years are stressful. Past research indicates that stress is linked to cardiovascular health risks. When does it start?  Does teen stress impact adulthood health outcomes?

UCLA researchers examined the relationship between CRP (C-Reactive Protein, an indication of cardiovascular difficulties) and teen’s interpersonal stress. They asked 70 adolescents to keep a record of their daily experiences of poor interpersonal interactions regarding family, peers and their school life for a period of 14 days. Surveys questioned participants as to whether a stressful event had happened to them regarding discipline, arguments, and/or being bullied. Second, participants gave blood sample approximately 9 months later to identify the presence of CRP.

Teens, who reported a higher frequency of interpersonal conflicts, had increased levels of CRP nine months later. Adult development of cardiovascular disease is associated with high CRP. These results held, despite controlling for the teens’ weight, socioeconomic status, substance use, life events, or being sensitive to rejection.

Helping children, teens and families handle interpersonal conflicts with effective communication, kindness, and conflict resolution skills early on may be essential for their later good physical health.


Fuligni, A., Telzer, E., Bower, J., Cole, S., Kiang, L., & Irwin, M. (2009). A Preliminary Study of Daily Interpersonal Stress and C-Reactive Protein Levels Among Adolescents From Latin American and European Backgrounds. Psychosom Med71(3), 329-333.

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