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J Adolesc Health. 2011 Sep;49(3):294-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2010.12.018. Epub 2011 Feb 18.

Peer relational victimization and somatic complaints during adolescence.

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Department of Psychology, Penn State Erie, The Behrend College, Erie, Pennsylvania 16563, USA.



To develop effective prevention and intervention efforts that optimize adolescent health, factors must be identified that affect health outcomes. The purpose of this study was to examine the association between somatic symptomatology and experiences with relational victimization (RV).


We prospectively tested the unique role of relational peer victimization in predicting adolescents' somatic complaints (SC), while accounting for their previous physical symptoms and peer victimization experiences (i.e., relational and physical victimization), as well as concurrent experiences with physical victimization (PV). Questionnaires were administered to 1,595 students (52% females) from eight schools in one school district (grades, 5-8) in the Midwestern part of the United States during the fall and spring sessions of the academic school year. Self-reported measures included demographic characteristics, victimization experiences, and assessment of SC.


RV was a unique predictor of increased somatic symptoms, even after controlling for adolescents' sex, grade level, initial SC, previous victimization experiences, and concurrent experiences with PV. Notably, RV was a stronger predictor of somatic symptoms than was PV.


Our findings underscore the need for a comprehensive approach when addressing adolescents' physical health symptoms. Adolescents may benefit from clinicians looking beyond the obvious and using gentle probing to uncover how unique experiences with RV may be associated with overall health.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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