Marital Conflict and Fifth-Graders' Risk for Injury

Published In: Accident Analysis and Prevention, v. 47, July 2012, p. 30-35

Posted on RAND.org on July 01, 2012

by David C. Schwebel, David L. Roth, Marc N. Elliott, Alyna T. Chien, Sylvie Murg, Eva Shipp, Patricia Dittus, Kimberly Zlomke, Mark A. Schuster

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BACKGROUND: Injuries are the leading cause of morbidity and mortality for American children. Marital conflict has been associated with a range of negative health outcomes, but little is known about how marital conflict may influence risk of injury among children. We hypothesized marital conflict would be related to increased youth injury risk after controlling for relevant demographic and parenting covariates. METHODS: A community sample of 3218 fifth-graders recruited from three US locales was utilized. Ordinal logistic regression models were used to predict the frequency of unintentional injuries from marital conflict while adjusting for demographics, parenting factors (nurturance, communication, involvement with youth), and family cohesion. RESULTS: Higher levels of marital conflict were associated with higher rates of injury that required professional medical attention (OR = 1.20, 95% CI 1.06, 1.35 per standard deviation). The same association held after inclusion of all covariates in a multivariate ordinal logistic regression model. CONCLUSIONS: Parental marital conflict is associated with higher rates of injuries requiring professional medical attention in preadolescent children.

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