Purpose: To examine whether emotional support moderates the association between college generation status and concurrent and prospective levels of systemic inflammation during the college transition among a sample of older U.S. adolescents. Methods: At an undergraduate tertiary institution, 41 first-generation college students (first-gens) and 46 continuing-generation college students (continuing-gens) in their first semester of college reported on basic demographic information and perceived emotional support. They also had their blood drawn midway through both the first and second semester to measure C-reactive protein and interleukin-6. An inflammatory composite for each semester was created by averaging the standardized scores for log-transformed C-reactive protein and interleukin-6. Results: Compared to continuing-gens, first-gens had greater systemic inflammation in the first semester regardless of their level of emotional support (B = 0.515, p =.003). However, emotional support moderated the association between college generation status and prospective systemic inflammation in the second semester (B = −0.525, p =.007) such that first-gens had greater systemic inflammation compared to continuing-gens, but only if they reported lower levels of emotional support (B = 0.826, p =.002). This moderation effect held after further adjusting for systemic inflammation in the first semester (B = −0.374, p =.022). Also discussed are results of secondary analyses examining sources of support. Discussion: Compared to continuing-gens, first-gens had greater systemic inflammation in the first semester irrespective of emotional support, suggesting all first-gens may stand to benefit from college resources provided early in the college transition. Furthermore, first-gens who reported lower levels of emotional support may benefit from additional college resources provided beyond the first semester.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Psychiatry and Mental health