Assessing within- and between-family variations in an expanded measure of childhood adversity.

Previous measures of childhood adversity have enabled the identification of powerful links with later-life wellbeing. The challenge for the next generation of childhood adversity assessment is to better characterize those links through comprehensive, fine-grained measurement strategies. The expanded, retrospective measure of childhood adversity presented here leveraged analytic and theoretical advances to examine multiple domains of childhood adversity at both the microlevel of siblings and the macrolevel of families. Despite the fact that childhood adversity most often occurs in the context of families, there is a dearth of studies that have validated childhood adversity measures on multiple members of the same families. Multilevel psychometric analyses of this childhood adversity measure administered to 1,194 siblings in 500 families indicated that the additional categories of childhood adversity were widely endorsed, and increased understanding of the sources and sequalae of childhood adversity when partitioned into within- and between-family levels. For example, multilevel confirmatory factor analyses (MCFAs) indicated that financial stress, unsafe neighborhood, and parental unemployment were often experienced similarly by siblings in the same families and stemmed primarily from family wide (between-family) sources. On the other hand, being bullied and school stressors were often experienced differently by siblings and derived primarily from individual (within-family) processes. Multilevel structural equation modeling (MSEM) further illuminated differential criterion validity correlations between these categories of childhood adversity with midlife psychological, social, and physical health. Expanded, multidomain, and multilevel measures of childhood adversity appear to hold promise for identifying layered causes and consequences of adverse childhood experiences. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)