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The mediating and moderating effects of differentiation of self on body mass index and depressive symptomatology among an American college sample

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Differentiation of self - a core construct of Bowen's (Bowen, M. (1978). Family therapy in clinical practice. New York: Jason Aronson) family systems theory - was examined as a possible predictor of psychological health and physical health and as a mediator and moderator of the relation between overall functioning and psychological health and physical health. A total of 818 American college students participated (mean age = 23.72, SD = 4.79) in this study. Differentiation of self was correlated and was predictive of psychological health, as measured by the Beck depression inventory, and physical health, as measured by body mass index (BMI). A multivariate multiple regression model revealed that differentiation of self partially mediated the effects of overall functioning on depressive symptomatology and on BMI. Results from a hierarchical regression model showed that differentiation of self moderated the relation between overall functioning and depressive symptomatology but did not moderate the relation between overall functioning and BMI. Taken together, these preliminary findings provide initial evidence of the importance of the associations between family systemic factors (differentiation of self) and psychological and physical health factors among American college populations.
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Keywords: Bowenian theory; college health; differentiation of self; physical health; psychological health

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Educational Studies in Psychology, Research Methodology, and Counseling, The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL 35487-0231, USA 2: Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Elon University, 2320 Campus Box, Elon, NC 27244, USA

Publication date: March 1, 2011

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