Association Between Parental Social Interaction and Behavior Problems in Offspring: a Population-Based Study in Japan.


PURPOSE: Research in parental social support has chiefly examined received social support. Studies have suggested that provided social support may also be protective for child mental health problems. We aim to investigate the association between parental social interaction (both received and provided social support) and offspring behavior problems. METHODS: We analyzed the data of 982 households, including 1538 children aged 4 to 16 years, from the Japanese Study of Stratification, Health, Income, and Neighborhood (J-SHINE) survey conducted over 2010-2011. We used a 5-point Likert scale to assess social interaction including parental emotional and instrumental support received from and provided to the spouse, other co-residing family members, non-co-residing family members or relatives, neighbors, and friends. Behavior problems in offspring were assessed using parental responses to the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire. Associations between parental social interaction and behavior problems were analyzed using ordered logistic regression. RESULTS: We found that higher maternal social interaction is significantly associated with lower odds of both difficult and prosocial behavior problems, while the same associations were not found for paternal social interaction. Further, maternal provided social support showed an independent negative association with prosocial behavior problems in offspring, even when adjusted for received maternal social support and paternal social interaction. CONCLUSIONS: This study showed that maternal social interaction, but not paternal social interaction, might have a protective effect on offspring behavior problems. Further study is required to investigate the effect of the intervention to increase social participation among mothers whose children have behavior problems.