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Parental Divorce or Death During Childhood and Adolescence and Its Association With Mental Health

Tebeka, Sarah MD; Hoertel, Nicolas MD; Dubertret, Caroline MD, PhD; Le Strat, Yann MD, PhD

The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease: September 2016 - Volume 204 - Issue 9 - p 678–685
doi: 10.1097/NMD.0000000000000549
Original Articles

Despite the severity of the loss of a parent and the frequency of parental divorce, few studies compared their impact on mental health in the general adult population. The aim of this study was to estimate the prevalence, sociodemographic correlates, and psychiatric comorbidity of parental loss and parental divorce during childhood and adolescence. Data were drawn from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions, a nationally representative sample of US adults (n = 43,093). Of the 43,093 participants, parental divorce during childhood or adolescence was reported by 5776 participants, whereas 3377 experienced parental death during childhood or adolescence. Participants reporting a history of parental divorce present a significantly higher prevalence of psychiatric disorders, particularly alcohol and drug use disorders compared with control subjects. While participants experiencing the death of a parent reported a poorer overall health, the prevalence of psychiatric disorder after 17 years of age was not significantly higher than that of the control subjects.

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*Assistance Publique-Hôpitaux de Paris, Department of Psychiatry, Louis-Mourier, Colombes; †Centre for Psychiatry and Neurosciences, Inserm U894; ‡University Paris 7 Denis Diderot, Faculty of Medicine, Paris; and §Assistance Publique-Hôpitaux de Paris (AP-HP), Department of Psychiatry, Corentin-Celton Hospital, Issy-les-Moulineaux, France.

Y.L.S. had full access to all of the data in the study and takes responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis.

Send reprint requests to Sarah Tebeka, MD, Assistance Publique-Hôpitaux de Paris, Department of Psychiatry, Louis-Mourier, 178 Rue des Renouillers, 92700 Colombes, France. E-mail:

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