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Annual Research Review: Interparental conflict and youth psychopathology: an evidence review and practice focused update.

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Harold, Gordon T 
Sellers, Ruth 


The quality of the interparental relationship is recognized as an important influence on child and adolescent psychopathology. Historically, clinically oriented research on this topic has focused on the impacts of parental divorce and domestic violence as primary interparental relationship influences on child outcomes, to the relative neglect of dimensional or qualitative features of the couple/interparental relationship for youth (child and adolescent) psychopathology. Recent research has highlighted that children are affected by attributes of interparental conflict, specifically how parents express and manage conflicts in their relationship, across a continuum of expressed severity and negativity - ranging from silence to violence. Furthermore, new evidence highlights that children's emotional, behavioral, social, academic outcomes, and future interpersonal relationships are adversely affected by conflict between parents/carers whether adults are living together or not (i.e. married or separated), or where children are or are not genetically related to their rearing parents (e.g. adoption). We review evidence and present an integrated theoretical model, highlighting how children are affected by interparental conflict and what this evidence base means for effective intervention and prevention program development, as well as the development of possible cost-benefit models. Additionally, we review policy implications of this research and highlight some very recent examples of UK-based policy focusing on addressing the interparental relationship and its impact on youth psychopathology.



Interparental conflict, child development, intervention, mental health, parent-child interaction, Adolescent, Adult, Adverse Childhood Experiences, Child, Child, Preschool, Divorce, Domestic Violence, Emotional Adjustment, Family Conflict, Female, Humans, Infant, Interpersonal Relations, Male, Mental Disorders, Mental Health, Parent-Child Relations, Risk Factors, Social Behavior

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J Child Psychol Psychiatry

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ESRC (ES/S004467/2)
Economic and Social Research Council (ES/N003098/1)
Economic and Social Research Council (ES/L014718/1)