Frederick X Gibbons's research while affiliated with University of Connecticut and other places

Publications (304)

Article
Smoking and Heavy Alcohol Consumption (HAC) are established risk factors for myriad complex disorders of ageing. Yet many prior studies of Epigenetic Ageing (EA) have shown only modest effects of smoking and drinking on accelerated ageing. One potential reason for this conundrum might be the reliance of some prior EA studies on self-reported substa...
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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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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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Given the potential for unintended pregnancy and exposure to sexually transmitted infections, both of which can have long-term deleterious health consequences, the identification of predictors of adolescent risky sexual behavior remains an important line of inquiry. Although prior research has identified a variety of family and individual factors t...
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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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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: 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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Objective: Numerous studies have found evidence of a link between perceived discrimination and unhealthy behavior, especially substance use. Within this body of literature, however, several studies have found unexpected evidence of a positive relation between perceived racial discrimination among African Americans-mostly women-and certain types of...
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The prototype‐willingness model is a modified dual‐process model of health behavior, with a focus on adolescents' health risk. It is based on an assumption that health behavior, especially among adolescents, is often not reasoned or planned but, instead, is a reaction to risk‐conducive social situations. Two decisional pathways are proposed in the...
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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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Racial socialization is a culturally relevant parenting strategy known to combat the detrimental consequences of racial discrimination for African American youth. Three limitations hinder our developmental understanding of the racial socialization process. Few studies have accounted for the combination of messages that primary caregivers convey, ex...
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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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The initiation of adolescent smoking is difficult to detect using carbon monoxide or cotinine assays. Previously, we and others have shown that the methylation of cg05575921 is an accurate predictor of adult smoking status. But the dose and time dependency of the demethylation response to smoking initiation in adolescents is not yet well understood...
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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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Considerable research has been devoted to understanding the influence of the family on adolescents’ risky sexual behavior, with primary focus being given to family structure, family transitions, or parenting. Using longitudinal data from the Family and Community Health Study (n = 550, 54% female, age 10.5 years at Wave 1), an African American sampl...
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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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The present study investigated the structure of the Spanish version of the Iowa-Netherlands Comparison Orientation Measure (INCOM-E), an 11-item measure that assesses individual differences in social comparison orientation (SCO), i.e., the extent to which people compare themselves with others. Data came from samples from Spain (n = 1,133) and Chile...
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Smoking is one of the leading preventable causes of morbidity and mortality worldwide, prompting interest in its association with DNA methylation-based measures of biological aging. Considerable progress has been made in developing DNA methylation-based measures that correspond to self-reported smoking status. In addition, assessment of DNA methyla...
Chapter
Individuals differ considerably in their social comparison orientation (SCO), that is, the extent to which and the frequency with which they compare themselves with others. In this chapter, the major findings with the scale assessing SCO are discussed. After presenting the basic psychometric properties of the scale and the relationships with variou...
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Identifying the mechanisms linking early experiences, genetic risk factors, and their interaction, with later health consequences is central to the development of preventive interventions and identifying potential boundary conditions for their efficacy. In the current investigation of 412 African American adolescents followed across a 20-year perio...
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The prospective relations between perceived racial discrimination (PRD), assessed at 4 different time periods from childhood through adolescence, along with assessments of PRD from the police ("hassling"), and self-reports of arrest and incarceration at a mean age of 24.5 years, were examined in a sample of 889 African Americans from the Family and...
Article
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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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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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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Although researchers have explored negative individual consequences of racial discrimination, very little work has examined the connection between discrimination and intimate partner violence (IPV) among African American men. Existing work tends to be cross-sectional and does not specify mediators or moderators that might explain this link. Thus, i...
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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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We examined the prospective relations between a cultural risk factor, perceived racial discrimination (PRD), and subsequent negative affect and health behavior (smoking) in a panel of 889 African American children (part of the Family and Community Health Study). Cultural moderators (protective factors) of these relations were also examined. PRD was...
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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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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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Although high socioeconomic status (SES) is traditionally conceptualized as a health protective factor, recent literature has documented positive associations between SES (e.g., income) and depression among Blacks, including Black youth. To extend the results of this recent literature, the current study used the Family and Community Health Study (F...
Article
Background We examined how mothers' protective parenting and alcohol use influenced changes in offspring's heavy drinking among a sample of African American youth. The conceptual model also tested indirect effects of mothers' behaviors, through changes in the youths' social images (i.e., prototypes) of heavy drinkers, derived from the prototype wil...
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During adolescence, one's status among peers is a major concern. Such status is often largely a function of popularity and establishing oneself as "cool." While there are conventional avenues to achieving status among adolescents, engaging in adult-like, or pseudomature, behaviors such as substance use or sexual activity is a frequent occurrence. A...
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Background: Recent research has suggested vulnerability to perceived racial discrimination (PRD) as a mechanism behind high levels of depression seen in high socioeconomic status (SES) Black males. To better understand the effects of gender and SES on shaping experiences of PRD among Black youth in the United States, we used data from the Family an...
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Affirming one’s racial identity may help protect against the harmful effects of racial exclusion on substance use cognitions. This study examined whether racial versus self-affirmation (vs. no affirmation) buffers against the effects of racial exclusion on substance use willingness and substance use word associations in Black young adults. It also...
Article
Objective: The goal of the study was to examine differential mediation of long-term effects of discrimination on health behaviour and health status by internalising (anxiety and depression) and externalising (hostility and anger), and to explore moderation of these effects, specifically, by the presence of support networks and coping tendencies. De...
Article
E-cigarette use by adolescents has been related to onset of cigarette smoking but there is little knowledge about the process(es) through which this occurs. Accordingly, we tested the role of cognitive and social factors for mediating the relation between e-cigarette use and smoking onset. A school-based survey was conducted with a baseline sample...
Book
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Tobacco smoking is a major risk factor for a number of chronic diseases, including a variety of cancers, lung disease and damage to the cardiovascular system. The World Health Organization recently calculated that there were 6 million smoking-attributable deaths per year and that this number is due to rise to about eight million per year by the end...
Chapter
African American adolescents tend to use substances at a lower rate than adolescents of other racial/ethnic groups. However, that pattern tends to change later in life, as African American young adults tend to exceed other young adults in terms of rates of problematic use. Several factors have been suggested as contributors to this racial cross-ove...
Article
Objective E-cigarette use has been linked to onset of cigarette smoking among adolescents, but some commentators have suggested that this simply reflects high-risk adolescents being more likely to use e-cigarettes and to smoke. We tested whether the effect of e-cigarette use for smoking onset differs for youth who are lower versus higher on propens...
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Parental racial socialization is a parenting tool used to prepare African American adolescents for managing racial stressors. While it is known that parents’ racial discrimination experiences affect the racial socialization messages they provide, little is known about the influence of factors that promote supportive and communal parenting, such as...
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This study examined impulsivity as a moderator of adolescents' reactions to positive versus negative portrayals of drinking in American movie clips. Impulsivity, along with willingness and intentions to drink in the future, were assessed in a pretest session. In the experimental sessions, adolescents viewed a series of clips that showed drinking as...
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Smoking is the largest preventable cause of morbidity and mortality in the world. Although there are effective pharmacologic and behavioral treatments for smoking cessation, our inability to objectively quantify smokers’ progress in decreasing smoking has been a barrier to both clinical and research efforts. In prior work, we and others have shown...
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Although multiple studies have found that African Americans commonly experience racial discrimination, available studies have yet to examine how perceived racism might be related to suicide vulnerability in African American youth. The purpose of this study was to examine a framework for how perceived racial discrimination contributes to symptoms of...
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Adolescence presents a critical opportunity to support the development of healthy patterns of behavior and prevent future health problems. Unfortunately, there is not yet a well-developed prevention model that allows pediatricians to initiate and monitor prevention efforts for the substantial minority of individuals who engage in risky behavior dur...
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Risky sexual behavior, particularly among adolescents, continues to be a major source of concern. In order to develop effective education and prevention programs, there is a need for research that identifies the antecedents of such behavior. This study investigated the mediators that link parenting experiences during early adolescence to subsequent...
Article
Objective Use of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) is prevalent among adolescents, but there is little knowledge about the consequences of their use. We examined, longitudinally, how e-cigarette use among adolescents is related to subsequent smoking behaviour. Methods Longitudinal school-based survey with a baseline sample of 2338 students (9th...
Article
Objectives To examine the effect of the relationship between alcohol and cigarette consumption on biological aging using deoxyribonucleic acid methylation-based indices. DesignHierarchical linear regression modeling followed by fitting of higher-order effects. SettingLongitudinal studies of aging and the effect of psychosocial stress. ParticipantsP...
Article
We modeled the effects of harsh environments in childhood on adjustment in early emerging adulthood, through parenting style and the development of fast Life History Strategies (LHS; risky beliefs and behaviors) in adolescence. Participants were from the Oregon Youth Substance Use Project (N = 988; 85.7% White). Five cohorts of children in Grades 1...
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Smoking is associated with poorer health outcomes for both African and European Americans. In order to better understand whether ethnic-specific genetic variation may underlie some of these differences, we compared the smoking-associated genome-wide methylation signatures of African Americans with those of European Americans, and followed up this a...
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There is little evidence on the consequences of using electronic cigarettes (e-cigarette) in adolescence. With a multiethnic sample of non-smokers, we assessed the relation between e-cigarette use and social-cognitive factors that predict smoking of combustible cigarettes. School-based cross-sectional survey of 2309 high school students (mean age 1...
Article
Three studies (N = 545) investigated the effects of social comparison on the "absent-exempt" (AE) heuristic (feeling exempt from future risk). Study 1 examined how comparison with an infected peer (comparison target) who was similar or nonsimilar in terms of sexual risk (number of partners, lack of condom use), influenced willingness and intentions...
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Smoking is the largest preventable cause of morbidity and mortality in the world. Despite the development of numerous preventive and treatment interventions, the rate of daily smoking in the United States is still approximately 22%. Effective psychosocial interventions and pharmacologic agents exist for the prevention and treatment of smoking. Unfo...
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This study focuses on 422 African American families with two caregivers as children transition into adolescence. The family stress model was tested longitudinally using structural equation modeling. Results showed that economic stress was associated with economic pressure and depressive symptoms among caregivers, which in turn was related to caregi...
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The prototype willingness model (PWM) was created in an attempt to improve the predictive validity and translational utility of existing expectancy value theories that have often been applied to health behavior (e.g., the theory of reasoned action and the theory of planned behavior). It is a dual‐process model that maintains that decision‐making re...
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Life History Theory (LHT), a branch of evolutionary biology, describes how organisms maximize their reproductive success in response to environmental conditions. This theory suggests that challenging environmental conditions will lead to early pubertal maturation, which in turn predicts heightened risky sexual behavior. Although largely confirmed a...
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ABSTRACT This article concerns the construct of lay situationism-an individual's belief in the importance of a behavior's context. Study 1 identified a 13-item Situationism Scale, which demonstrated good reliability and validity. In particular, higher situationism was associated with greater situation-control (strategies to manipulate the environme...
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Objective Type 2 diabetes disproportionately affects African American women, a population exposed to high levels of stress, including financial strain (Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, 2011, ). We tested a mediational model in which chronic financial strain among African American women contributes to elevated serum inflammation markers, wh...