Objective. The impact of somatisation in adolescence is substantial. Knowledge on (predictors of) individual-level development of somatisation is necessary to develop tailored treatment. The current study assessed individual-level development of somatisation by means of latent mixed modelling. Parenting stress was included as a predictor of somatisation trajectory membership and within-trajectory variation.
Methods. A total of 1499 adolescents and one of their parents (mostly the mother) agreed to participate. Questionnaires were administered when the adolescents were respectively 12-13 (T1), 13-14 (T2), and 14-15 (T3) years old. Adolescents reported on their somatisation, parents on their parenting stress.
Results. Four individual somatisation trajectories were found: increased, long-term low, long-term high, and decreased. Higher early parenting stress (T1) significantly predicted less favourable trajectory membership (increased and long-term high). The relation between later parenting stress (T2 and T3) and somatisation depended on trajectory membership. For adolescents in the long-term high and decreased somatisation trajectory, lower T2 and T3 parenting stress was related to higher somatisation, while for adolescents in the long-term low and increased trajectory, higher T2 and T3 parenting stress was related to higher somatisation.
Conclusions. The results support a general recommendation to prevent the onset of high levels of parenting stress. In addition, for families in which high levels of parenting stress already exist, clinicians should be aware of natural fluctuations in parenting stress, its associated features (e.g., aspects of overall care, like looking for professional help) and of the consequences this might have for the adolescent.