Social psychiatry and psychiatric epidemiology. vol:36 issue:7 pages:319-23
BACKGROUND: Twin studies suggest that environmental effects on the development of child psychopathology largely involve nonshared environmental processes. However, the influence of the nonshared environment may have been overestimated, as the relationship between environment and behaviour may be genetically mediated. A direct measure of the nonshared environment (using the Sibling Inventory of Differential Experience - SIDE) was investigated in relation to child psychopathology, and tested for possible genetic mediation. METHOD: Parent-rated versions of the Child Behaviour Checklist (CBCL) and the SIDE were collected in 760 twin pairs aged 6-17 years. Multilevel regression analysis was used to assess the influence of SIDE scores on CBCL total problem scores, internalising symptoms, externalising symptoms and depressive symptom scores. Genetic mediation was assessed by examining interaction with zygosity in the association between SIDE scores and differences in CBCL scores (absence of interaction indicating no genetic mediation). RESULTS: The results revealed significant associations between SIDE dimensions on the one hand, and degree of internalising, externalising, depression and total symptom scores on the other. However, the effects were non-linear, and especially apparent for the extremes of differential environmental experience within twin pairs. Overall, there was no strong evidence for genetic mediation of associations between nonshared environment and symptoms. CONCLUSIONS: Direct, genetically unconfounded but skewed relationships may exist between nonshared environment on the one hand and behavioural differences on the other, although longitudinal data are necessary to determine the direction of effects.