Skip to main content

Early Adverse Experiences and Health: The Transition to College

Buy Article:

$39.00 + tax (Refund Policy)

Objective: This study cross-sectionally and prospectively examined the impact of adversity experienced prior to college on the health and well-being of students adjusting to their first college semester. Methods: Two-hundred sixteen (216) first-year students completed measures of adverse life experiences, perceived stress, physical symptoms, and health-related behaviors during the first 2 weeks of college entry and again at the end of the first semester. Results: Reported adversity prior to college predicted greater perceived stress and physical symptoms at college entry and an increase in physical symptoms over the semester; perceived stress mediated the prospective changes. Early adversity predicted smoking, alcohol use problems, and risky sexual behavior at college entry, but was unrelated to the change in smoking, alcohol use problems, or risky sexual behavior. Adversity was not related to drug use at college entry but did predict change in drug use over the semester. Conclusion: Some risk factors associated with early adversity are present when students matriculate, but adversity also may impact mental and physical health prospectively during the transition to college. Interventions directed at reducing distress may prevent negative developmental consequences.


Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Associate Professor, Misericordia University, Department of Psychology, Dallas, PA 2: Assistant Professor, Old Dominion University, Department of Psychology, Norfolk, VA 3: Professor, The Pennsylvania State University, Department of Biobehavioral Health and Medicine, University Park, PA;, Email: [email protected]

Publication date: November 1, 2016

More about this publication?
  • The American Journal of Health Behavior seeks to improve the quality of life through multidisciplinary health efforts in fostering a better understanding of the multidimensional nature of both individuals and social systems as they relate to health behaviors.

    The Journal aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the impact of personal attributes, personality characteristics, behavior patterns, social structure, and processes on health maintenance, health restoration, and health improvement; to disseminate knowledge of holistic, multidisciplinary approaches to designing and implementing effective health programs; and to showcase health behavior analysis skills that have been proven to affect health improvement and recovery.

  • Editorial Board
  • Information for Authors
  • Submit a Paper
  • Subscribe to this Title
  • Review Board
  • Reprints and Permissions
  • Ingenta Connect is not responsible for the content or availability of external websites
  • Access Key
  • Free content
  • Partial Free content
  • New content
  • Open access content
  • Partial Open access content
  • Subscribed content
  • Partial Subscribed content
  • Free trial content