Steven R H Beach

Steven R H Beach
University of Georgia | UGA · Center for Family Research

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293
Publications
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Introduction
Skills and Expertise

Publications

Publications (293)
Article
Background While numerous studies have documented the power of new generation epigenetic clocks to predict morbidity and mortality, research regarding the causes of variation in speed of epigenetic aging is in the early stages. To the extent that these epigenetic clocks are robust measures of biological aging, they should be sensitive to various nu...
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Objective The objective of this study was to investigate racial centrality as a mediator of the association between Black adolescents’ racial discrimination experiences and their cigarette use in early adulthood. Methods The data were drawn from the Family and Community Health Study, which is a longitudinal study of Black American families that be...
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Responsive parenting (RP) interventions reduce rapid infant weight gain but their effect for underserved populations is largely unknown. The Sleep SAAF (Strong African American Families) study is a two-arm randomized clinical trial for primiparous African American mother-infant dyads that compares an RP intervention to a child safety control over t...
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The current study extends research on the detrimental health implications of racial discrimination by examining how these implications reverberate across romantic relationships. Using two generations of different-gender romantic couples from the Family and Community Health Study, we examined how racial discrimination experienced by a romantic partn...
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The present study was designed to examine the complex bidirectional associations between relationship quality and depressive symptoms among African American couples. Informed by the Marital Discord Model, particular attention was devoted to understanding the unique associations of positive and negative dimensions of relationship functioning with de...
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Objectives Research on the social determinants of health has suggested that neighborhood disadvantage may undermine healthy aging and is particularly relevant for understanding health disparities. Recently, this work has examined deoxyribonucleic acid methylation (DNAm)-based measures of biological aging to understand the risk factors for morbidity...
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We expand upon prior work (Gibbons et al., 2012) relating childhood stressor effects, particularly harsh childhood environments, to risky behavior and ultimately physical health by adding longer-term outcomes – deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) methylation-based measures of accelerated aging (DNA m -aging). Further, following work on the effects of early...
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The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) Research Domain Criteria (RDoC) initiative aims to understand the mechanisms influencing psychopathology through a dimensional approach. Limited research thus far has considered potential racial/ethnic differences in RDoC constructs that are influenced by developmental and contextual processes. A growi...
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Black Americans have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. To better understand changes in and predictors of their mental and physical health, in the current study, we used three waves of data (two prepandemic and a third during summer 2020) from 329 Black men and women in the rural South. Results indicated that health worsened...
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Black adults in the rural South experience elevated financial strain and other contextual stressors, increasing their risk for poor health. Supportive relationships, particularly positive romantic relationships, have been shown to offset these risks. The present study aims to provide experimental evidence of the buffering effect of supportive relat...
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Objective: We examined the association of prospectively assessed harsh parenting during adolescence with body mass index (BMI) in young adulthood among African American youth. We also assessed the role of methylation of obesity-related genes and gene expression markers of obesity as mediators of this association, providing a pathway for the biologi...
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As of 2019, 34.1 million adults in the United States smoke cigarettes. People who smoke and who are partnered with other smokers (i.e., dual-smoker couples [DSCs]) represent an estimated two-thirds of U.S. smokers. DSCs face unique obstacles to quitting, are less likely to try to quit, and are more likely to relapse during a quit attempt. Although...
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Background . Methylation of FKBP5 is involved in the regulation of the stress response and is influenced by early stress exposure. Two CpG sites, cg20813374 and cg00130530, have been identified as potential reporters of early stress. We examined whether FKBP5 methylation was associated with accelerated DNA methylation aging and indirectly predicted...
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Objective: This study examined whether a family-focused prevention program for African American families could buffer the negative effect of perceived financial strain on protective parent-child interactions and thereby reduce the indirect effect of financial strain on youth conduct problems. Method: Three hundred and forty-six African American...
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Biological aging is a common root for multiple diseases causing morbidity and mortality, and trajectories of aging may start early in life. This study was designed to examine whether a universal family-based substance use preventive intervention to enhance self-control and reduce substance use would also result in reductions in biological aging amo...
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Objective: Evolving patterns of nicotine and cannabis use by adolescents require new tools to understand the changing epidemiology of these substances. Here we describe the use of a novel epigenetic biomarker sensitive to both tobacco and cannabis smoke in a longitudinal sample of high-risk adolescents. We examine risk factors for positivity for th...
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A scientific consensus is emerging that children reared in risky family climates are prone to chronic diseases and premature death later in life. Few prospective data, however, are available to inform the mechanisms of these relationships. In a prospective study involving 323 Black families, we sought to determine whether, and how, childhood risky...
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The adverse impact of racial discrimination on youth, and particularly its impact on the development of depressive symptoms, has prompted attention regarding the potential for family processes to protect youth from these erosive effects. Evidence from non-experimental studies indicates that protective parenting behavior (PPB) which occurs naturally...
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Objective Smoking is associated with numerous inflammatory and autoimmune conditions. The goal of this study was to examine whether increased expression of G-protein-coupled receptor 15 (GPR15) on helper T cells in smokers could predispose to these conditions through its relationship with inflammatory biomarkers. Methods We used flow cytometric me...
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Mortality assessments are conducted for both civil and commercial purposes. Recent advances in epigenetics have resulted in DNA methylation tools to assess risk and aid in this task. However, widely available array-based algorithms are not readily translatable into clinical tools and do not provide a good foundation for clinical recommendations. Fu...
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This study examined the effects of the Protecting Strong African American Families (ProSAAF) prevention program on adults' self-reported health outcomes 25 months after enrollment. ProSAAF is a couple-focused prevention program specifically designed to meet the needs of African-American families residing in the rural South. African-American couples...
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Objective: This study examined the effects of the Protecting Strong African American Families (ProSAAF) prevention program on children's outcomes more than 2 years after enrollment, including direct effects of the intervention and indirect effects through couple functioning and parent-child relations. Method: Three hundred forty-six African Amer...
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Background The weathering hypothesis views the elevated rates of illness, disability, and mortality seen among Black Americans as a physiological response to the structural barriers, material hardships, and identity threats that comprise the Black experience. While granting that lifestyle may have some significance, the fundamental explanation for...
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Epigenetic aging (EA) indices are frequently used as predictors of mortality and other important health outcomes. However, each of the commonly used array-based indices has significant heritable components which could tag ethnicity and potentially confound comparisons across racial and ethnic groups. To determine if this was possible, we examined t...
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A large body of evidence suggests that exposure to childhood adversities increases risk for poor quality physical health in adulthood. Much of this evidence is based on retrospective measures which are believed to be contaminated by the limitations and biases of autobiographical memory. Using longitudinal data on 454 African Americans (61 percent f...
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It is widely accepted that socioeconomic status (SES) is a fundamental cause of health inequality. There is evidence, however, that race is also a fundamental cause of disparities in health. Based on this idea, the weathering hypothesis developed by Geronimus and her colleagues views the elevated rates of illness and disability seen among Black Ame...
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Objectives: Experiences of racial discrimination are common for Black Americans and have been associated with depression and sleep disturbance, factors likely involved in the insidious development of health disparities. The current study replicates these associations and examines longitudinal linkages. Method: Black American couples (men: N = 24...
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Prior research has demonstrated the importance of delay discounting in adverse health behaviors, such as addiction, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, risk taking, and obesity. Nevertheless, the functional connectivity of neural circuitry associated with delay discounting and the ways in which the social environment may influence frontostria...
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Family-centered prevention programs for couples with children are being increasingly disseminated, with the hope that improving couples’ romantic relationships will lead to other benefits for families. To date, however, it is unclear whether these interventions do in fact yield these benefits. The current study addressed this gap by examining wheth...
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Background.—Heavy alcohol consumption (HAC) is a shared concern of the forensic, medical and insurance underwriting communities. Unfortunately, there is a relative lack of clinically employable tools for detecting HAC and monitoring treatment response. Building on the results of 3 genome wide methylation studies, we have previously shown in a small...
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The present study extends prior research on the links between social adversity and aging by employing more comprehensive measures of adversity and a new gene expression index of aging. Hierarchical regression and 20 years of data from a sample of 381 black Americans were used to test models regarding the impact of social adversity on speed of aging...
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Many existing DNA repositories do not have robust characterizations of smoking, while for many currently ongoing studies, the advent of vaping has rendered traditional cotinine‐based methods of determining smoking status unreliable. Previously, we have shown that methylation status at cg05575921 in whole blood DNA can reliably predict cigarette con...
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Objective: This study examined the role of depressive symptoms in mediating the relationship between early life experiences of racial discrimination and accelerated aging in adulthood for African Americans (i.e., prediction over a 19-year period, from ages 10 to 29) after adjusting for gender and health behaviors. Method: Longitudinal self-repor...
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Background: Responsive parenting interventions that shape parenting behaviors in the areas of sleep and soothing, appropriate and responsive feeding, and routines represent a promising approach to early obesity prevention and have demonstrated effectiveness in our previous trials. However, this approach has yet to be applied to the populations mos...
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Objectives: Early identification of smoking, essential for the successful implementation of interventions, arrests the escalation of smoking and smoking-associated risk behaviors in adolescents. However, because nascent smoking is typically episodic and infrequent, enzyme-linked immunoassay reagent-based approaches that detect cotinine, a key nicot...
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Objective Chronic inflammation and expression of the TP53 gene are two biomarkers that have been identified as particularly important in the etiology and progression of cancer. While much is known about the determinants of inflammation, there is currently little information regarding the causes of variation in the functioning of TP53, even though i...
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We followed 402 African American young adults from ages 24 to 29, a period of emerging committed relationships, to examine the association of contextual stress (CS), for example, experiences of financial strain, victimization, and racial discrimination, with inflammation, and to test predictions that greater perceived relationship warmth and suppor...
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A number of studies have examined the relationship of indices of epigenetic aging (EA) to key health outcomes. Unfortunately, our understanding of the relationship of EA to mortality and substance use-related health variables is unclear. In order to clarify these interpretations, we analyzed the relationship of the Levine EA index (LEA), as well as...
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There is strong evidence that chronic, systemic inflammation hastens onset of the diseases of old age that ultimately lead to death. Importantly, several studies suggest that childhood adversity predicts chronic inflammation. Unfortunately, this research has been plagued by retrospective reports of childhood adversity, an absence of controls for ad...
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An improved approach for predicting the risk for incident coronary heart disease (CHD) could lead to substantial improvements in cardiovascular health. Previously, we have shown that genetic and epigenetic loci could predict CHD status more sensitively than conventional risk factors. Herein, we examine whether similar machine learning approaches co...
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The stressors associated with poverty increase the risks for externalizing psychopathology; however, specific patterns of neurobiology and higher self‐regulation may buffer against these effects. This study leveraged a randomized control trial, aimed at increasing self‐regulation at ~11 years of age. As adults, these same individuals completed func...
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Several studies have reported a relation between race-related stressors and the poor health of Black Americans. Such findings raise questions regarding the mediating biological mechanisms that might account for this link. The present study investigated elevated systemic inflammation, a factor shown to be a strong predictor of chronic illness and mo...
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Background: Stressful or supportive social environments promote biological changes with regulatory implications for future relationships and substance abuse. Recent research suggests links between adverse social environments, prosocial relationships, methylation at the oxytocin receptor gene (OXTR), and substance abuse. The potential for OXTR meth...
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Several studies have reported a relation between race-related stressors and the poor health of Black Americans. Such findings raise questions regarding the mediating biological mechanisms that might account for this link. The present study investigated elevated systemic inflammation, a factor shown to be a strong predictor of chronic illness and mo...
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Racial discrimination is a common stressor for African Americans, with negative consequences for mental and physical well-being. It is likely that these effects extend into the family, but little research has examined the association between racial discrimination and couple functioning. This study used dyadic data from 344 rural, predominantly low-...
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The lack of readily employable biomarkers of alcohol consumption is a problem for clinicians and researchers. In 2014, we published a preliminary DNA methylation signature of heavy alcohol consumption that remits as a function of abstinence. Herein, we present new genome‐wide methylation findings from a cohort of additional subjects and a meta‐anal...
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Objective: An association between childhood trauma and adult health outcomes has been widely reported, but little is known about the developmental pathways through which childhood trauma influences adult cardiovascular disease (CVD). Methods: Hypotheses were tested with a sample of 405 African Americans from the Family and Community Health Study (F...
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This study presents results from a randomized controlled trial of the Protecting Strong African American Families (ProSAAF) program, a family-centered intervention designed to promote strong couple, coparenting, and parent-child relationships in two-parent African American families. A total of 346 African American couples with an early adolescent c...
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The tobacco use disorders are the largest preventable cause of morbidity and mortality in the world. A substantial barrier to the development of better intervention and screening measures is the lack of clinically employable biomarkers to detect the existence and extent of tobacco consumption. In prior work, we and others have shown that array base...
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Introduction: This study evaluated an age sensitive model of substance use across adolescence to determine if substance use was associated with smaller volumes for an earlier developing brain region, the amygdala, a later developing region, the inferior frontal gyrus, and the ventral striatum. Method: Participants (N = 110) were African American...
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Background Supportive parenting during childhood has been associated with many positive developmental outcomes for offspring in adulthood, including fewer health-risk behaviors. Little is known about the neural mechanisms underlying these associations. Methods The present study followed rural African Americans (n = 91, 52% female) from late childh...
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This study investigated (a) the stress spillover pathways linking contextual stressors, changes in couple relationship functioning and depressive symptoms, and changes in individuals’ physical health, and (b) the stress-buffering effect of participation in an efficacious, family centered prevention program designed to protect couples from the delet...
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For many African American youth, the joint influences of economic and racial marginalization render the transition to stable adult roles challenging. We have gained much insight into how these challenges affect future life chances, yet we lack an understanding of what these challenges mean in the context of linked lives. Drawing on a life course fr...
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The Strong African American Family (SAAF) program has been shown to have a variety of short and long-term benefits for participating youth and families. However, biological mechanisms potentially influencing long-term effects on resilience in young adulthood have not been examined. In the current investigation, we examine the effects of SAAF on met...
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Experiences with parents during childhood may influence long-term health for those growing up in adverse environments, with effects that extend into young adulthood and beyond. Some effects of parenting on later inflammation and depression may be mediated by later romantic partner relationships and effects on stressors in young adulthood, influenci...
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Rationale: Past research has established an association between childhood and adolescent stressors and elevated inflammatory and metabolic biomarkers in adulthood, but questions remain about the theoretical model most suited to explain this association. Objective: This study examined alternative hypotheses from four theoretical models regarding...
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It has been hypothesized that neural reactivity to drug cues in certain limbic/paralimbic regions of the brain is an indicator of addiction severity and a marker for likelihood of success in treatment. To address this question, in the current study, 32 participants (44 percent female) completed a functional magnetic resonance imaging cigarette cue...
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Background Delayed reward discounting (DRD), the degree to which future rewards are discounted relative to immediate rewards, is used as an index of impulsive decision-making and has been associated with a number of problematic health behaviors. Given the robust behavioral association between DRD and addictive behavior, there is an expanding litera...
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Smoking is the leading cause of death in the United States. It exerts its effects by increasing susceptibility to a variety of complex disorders among those who smoke, and if pregnant, to their unborn children. In prior efforts to understand the epigenetic mechanisms through which this increased vulnerability is conveyed, a number of investigators...
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Building upon various lines of research, we posited that methylation of the oxytocin receptor gene ( OXTR ) would mediate the effect of adult adversity on increased commitment to negative schemas and in turn the development of depression. We tested our model using structural equation modeling and longitudinal data from a sample of 100 middle-aged,...
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We examined two potentially interacting, connected pathways by which parental supportiveness during early adolescence (ages 1–13) may come to be associated with later African American young adult smoking. The first pathway is between parental supportiveness and young adult stress (age 19), with stress, in turn, predicting increased smoking at age 2...
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Enhancing communication as a means of promoting relationship quality has been increasingly questioned, particularly for couples at elevated sociodemographic risk. In response, the current study investigated communication change as a mechanism accounting for changes in relationship satisfaction and confidence among 344 rural, predominantly low-incom...
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Smoking has been shown to have a large, reliable and rapid effect on demethylation of AHRR, particularly at cg05575921, suggesting that methylation may be used as an index of cigarette consumption. Because the availability of methyl donors may also influence the degree of demethylation in response to smoking, factors that affect the activity of met...
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Objectives: Marijuana use rates peak during emerging adulthood (ages 18 to 25years). Although marijuana use quantity reliably predicts substance-related problems, considerable individual differences characterize this association. The aims of the present study were to examine the influence of community disadvantage in amplifying the effects of mari...
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Background and objectives: Smoking is known to increase biological age. However, whether this process is reversible through smoking cessation is not known. In this pilot study, we attempt to determine whether smoking cessation reduces biological age. Methods: We conducted regression analyses of methylation data from 22 subjects, as they entered a...
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Based on similarities between overconsumption of food and addictive drugs, there is increasing interest in “food addiction,” a compulsive eating pattern defined using symptoms parallel to substance use disorders. Impulsivity, a multidimensional construct robustly linked to drug addiction, has been increasingly examined as an obesity determinant, bu...
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Importance: This study was designed to determine whether a preventive intervention focused on enhancing supportive parenting could ameliorate the association between exposure to poverty and brain development in low socioeconomic status African American individuals from the rural South. Objective: To determine whether participation in an efficaci...
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Objective: We examined the mediational role of symptoms of anxiety in accounting for the association of discrimination and chronic health conditions among African-American women. Methods: Participants were 646 African-American women who completed self-report measures of perceived racial discrimination, symptoms of anxiety, and diagnosed chronic...