The role of attachment relationship in adolescents' problem behavior development: a cross-sectional study of Kenyan adolescents in Nairobi city.
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Background: There is a significant link between insecure attachment and the development of psychopathology in adolescence. We investigated the relationship between adolescent attachment styles and the development of emotional and behavioral problems among adolescents in Kenya. We also examined the modifying influence of socio-economic-status (SES). Method: One hundred and thirty-seven adolescents who were attending two schools participated in the study. One school (low SES school) catered for children from predominantly low-income households, while the second school (middle SES school) catered for children from predominantly middle-income households. The data were collected using three instruments: researcher designed questionnaire to obtain socio-demographic information, the Strength and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) that is designed to assess symptoms of disorder, and the Vulnerable Attachment Scale Questionnaire (VASQ) that is designed to measure attachment style. Results: Adolescents from the low SES school had higher vulnerable attachment scores than those from the middle SES school (t(135) = - 2.5, P = 0.02). Male students had higher vulnerable attachment scores than females (P = 0.03). Adolescents who had experienced adversity in childhood had higher vulnerable attachment scores than those who had not (P < 0.00). Results from Pearson's correlation showed moderate to strong positive correlations between attachment insecurity and emotional and behavioral problems with participants who had higher emotional symptoms (r = 0.47, P < 0.01), conduct problem score (r = 0.33, P < 0.01), hyperactivity (r = 0.26, P < 0.01) and total difficulty scores (r = 0.47, P < 0.01), experiencing significantly higher levels of attachment insecurity than those with lower scores. Conclusions and recommendations: This study supports the notion that attachment insecurity increases the adolescents' susceptibility to develop psychological problems.
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