Parental warmth and psychiatric disorders among Puerto Rican children in two different socio-cultural contexts

Olga Santesteban-Echarri, María A. Ramos-Olazagasti, Ruth E. Eisenberg, Chiaying Wei, Héctor R. Bird, Glorisa Canino, Cristiane S. Duarte

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Background Parental warmth (PW) has a strong influence on child development and may precede the onset of psychiatric disorders in children. PW is interconnected with other family processes (e.g., coercive discipline) that may also influence the development of psychiatric disorders in children. We prospectively examined the association between PW and child psychiatric disorders (anxiety, major depression disorder, ADHD, disruptive behavior disorders) over the course of three years among Puerto Rican youth, above and beyond the influence of other family factors. Methods Boricua Youth Study participants, Puerto Rican children 5 to 13 years of age at Wave 1 living in the South Bronx (New York) (SB) and San Juan and Canguas (PR) (n = 2,491), were followed for three consecutive years. Youth psychiatric disorders were measured by the Diagnostic Interview Schedule for Children-IV (DISC-IV). Generalized Linear Mixed models tested the association between PW (Wave 1) and psychiatric disorders in the next two years adjusting for demographic characteristics and family processes. Results Higher levels of PW were related to lower odds of child anxiety and major depressive disorder over time (OR = 0.69[0.60; 0.79]; 0.49[0.41; 0.58], respectively). The strength of the association between PW and ADHD and disruptive behavior disorder declined over time, although it was still significant in the last assessment (OR = 0.44[0.37; 0.52]; 0.46[0.39; 0.54], respectively). PW had a unique influence on psychiatric disorders beyond the influence of other parenting and family processes. Stronger associations were observed among girls for depression and ADHD. Conclusions Incorporating PW behaviors such as acceptance, support, and comforting into interventions focused on parenting skills may help prevent child psychiatric disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)30-36
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Psychiatric Research
StatePublished - Apr 1 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • ADHD
  • Anxiety
  • Disruptive behavior disorder
  • Major depression disorder
  • Parental warmth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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