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Quality of Parental Emotional Care and Calculated Risk for Coronary Heart Disease

Almeida, Nisha D. MSc; Loucks, Eric B. PhD; Kubzansky, Laura PhD; Pruessner, Jens PhD; Maselko, Joanna ScD; Meaney, Michael J. PhD, CQ, FRSC; Buka, Stephen L. ScD

doi: 10.1097/PSY.0b013e3181c925cb
Original Articles

Objective: To evaluate associations between perceived quality of parental emotional care and calculated 10-year risk for coronary heart disease (CHD). Little is understood about the role of parental emotional care in contributing to the risk for CHD.

Methods: The study sample was composed of 267 participants from the New England Family Study. Quality of parental emotional care was measured, using a validated short version of the Parental Bonding Instrument (PBI) as the average care scores for both parents (range = 0–12), with higher scores indicating greater care. Ten-year CHD risk was calculated, using the validated Framingham Risk Algorithm that incorporates the following prevalent CHD risk factors: age, sex, diabetes, smoking, total cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and blood pressure. Multiple linear regression assessed associations of PBI with calculated CHD risk after adjusting for childhood socioeconomic status, depressive symptomatology, educational attainment, and body mass index.

Results: Among females, a 1-unit increase in the parental emotional care score resulted in a 4.6% (p = .004) decrease in the 10-year CHD risk score, after adjusting for covariates. There was no association between parental emotional care score and calculated CHD risk score in males (p = .22).

Conclusion: Quality of parental emotional care was inversely associated with calculated 10-year CHD risk in females, and not males. Although the gender differences need further investigation and these findings require replication, these results suggest that the early childhood psychosocial environment may confer risk for CHD in adulthood.

CHD = coronary heart disease; PBI = parental bonding instrument; BMI = body mass index; SEP = socioeconomic position; HDL = high-density lipoprotein; CES-D = Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale.


From the Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health (N.D.A.), Department of Psychiatry (N.D.A., J.P., M.J.M.), Douglas Mental Health University Institute, McGill University, Montreal, QB, Canada; Department of Community Health (E.B.L., S.L.B.), Center for Population Health and Clinical Epidemiology, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island; Department of Society, Human Development and Health (L.K.), Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts; and the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences (J.M.), Duke University, Durham, North Carolina.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Nisha D. Almeida, McGill University, 1020 Pine Avenue West, Montreal, Quebec, H3A 1A2. E-mail:

Supplemental digital content is available for this article. Direct URL citations appear in the printed text, and links to the digital files are provided in the HTML text of this article on the journal’s Web site

This work was supported, in part, by Canadian Institutes of Health New Investigator Award (EBL), and was funded, in part, by Grant 1R01AG023397 from the National Institutes of Health/National Institute on Aging.

Copyright © 2010 by American Psychosomatic Society
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