Trails Next – Tracking the Next Generation

Poster Presentation
Friday, May 11, 2018: 11:30 AM-1:30 PM
Hall Grote Zaal (de Doelen ICC Rotterdam)
J. S. Richards, A. M. Sluiter-Oerlemans, A. J. Oldehinkel and C. A. Hartman, Department of Psychiatry, Interdisciplinary Center Psychopathology and Emotion Regulation (ICPE), University Medical Center Groningen, Groningen, Netherlands

Parental characteristics (e.g., personality, social-cognitive ability, psychopathology) are important predictors of parenting, and their interaction with environmental (e.g., SES, social support, and chronic difficulties) and child (e.g., temperament, behavior) factors has been acknowledged theoretically. However, little empirical research has comprehensively examined this interplay using detailed information about young adults and their social contexts as predictors of variation in parenting. Additionally, literature has suggested long-lasting interactions between individual characteristics and contextual factors like stressful life events. Evidence has been increasing for such person-environment (PxE) transactions and their associations with mental (ill-)health.

Studying the transactions of parental characteristics and environmental circumstances allows us to understand in much greater detail than before under which conditions particular parenting styles are especially (mal-)adaptive. It also allows us to determine whether and how PxE transactions and their consequences for mental (ill-)health reach into next generations. Such a detailed understanding provides a solid knowledge base for developing personalized and contextualized prevention and treatment efforts.


TRAILS Next aims (a) to study parent and child development as early as possible and elucidate transgenerational mechanisms of child and adolescent development and psychopathology, as well as (b) to clarify the role of social context and of life events and long-term difficulties herein.


TRAILS Next is nested within the longitudinal cohort study Tracking Adolescents’ Individual Lives Survey (TRAILS), see Figure 1. The current add-on study focuses on the children of TRAILS participants and their partners. Development of cognitive ability, personality and mental (ill-) health as well as environmental conditions have been studied in the prospective parents since TRAILS began in 2000-2004 when participants were approximately 11 years old (N=2773). In TRAILS Next, parents are followed from pregnancy onwards. At T1, pre- and postnatal parental experiences are collected up to when the baby is 3 months old (T2). At T2, a home visit is planned, including a short observation (motor activity of the baby, parent child-interaction), and an interview asking about major life events. Questionnaire data on parental psychopathology (including ASD symptoms), personality, parenting, and child temperament, social competence, and mental health (including ASD symptoms) are also collected. At T3, when the child is 30 months, questionnaire data as well as observational data (parent child interactions, play and tasks) are collected. At T4, questionnaire data will be collected from parents and teachers when the child is 54 months, see Figure 2.


TRAILS Next started in February 2015 and over 80 children and their parents have been included in the study so far. During this poster presentation, we present the most recent numbers and provide an (preliminary) overview of the study cohort characteristics.


Findings from this study will help us understand the complex interplay of determinants of parenting and to what extent and which specific parenting and parent-child relationship dimensions explain associations between parent characteristics and child developmental outcomes. In addition, results will expand our understanding of how PxE interactions and their associations with parental mental (ill-)health reach into the next generation and are predictive of child developmental outcomes.