A Friend in Need: The Influence of Friendship on the Psychosocial Adjustment of Youth with Chronic Health Conditions
Friendship has consistently been found to act as a buffer against psychological maladjustment for healthy youth and youth experiencing difficulties including parental divorce and natural disasters. Less known is the role of friendship may have for females coping with a chronic health problem. Therefore, the objective of the current study was to evaluate the health factors and friendship precursors that may influence friendship, and in turn, how those friendships may predict psychosocial adjustment. A sample of chronically ill females (N = 30) was compared to a control group of healthy females (N = 45) on measures of opportunities for social interaction, similarity to their best friend, social capability, friendship quality, and psychological adjustment. Results revealed that health condition and friendship precursors were not associated with friendship quality. However, higher friendship quality was predictive of fewer externalizing symptoms for healthy girls. Additionally, positive parent relationships predicted fewer internalizing symptoms for both groups of females. Notably, chronically ill girls noted their friendships were higher in punishment and lower in companionship than healthy girls. Further assessment, including objective measures, will elucidate the beneficial processes of friendships and parent-child relationships that buffer youth from maladjustment.
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