19 de agosto de 2012

The Association of Cyberbullying with Cardiovascular Health in Adolescents: A Preliminary Analysis

1.   Andrea Cassidy-Bushrow, PhD, MPH1,

2.   Dayna Johnson, MSW, MPH1 and

3.   Christine Joseph, PhD, MPH1


Background/Aims With increasing access to the internet and other technology, adolescents may become victims of online harassment, referred to as cyberbullying. Cyberbullying may cause worry, fear, and distress among youth, all which increase cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk in adults. To our knowledge, no study has examined the potential association of cyberbullying with CVD risk factors in adolescents. We examined the association of cyberbullying with overweight/obesity and elevated blood pressure (BP) among healthy adolescents.

Methods Adolescents age 14–17 years and parent/guardian were invited to a research visit between November, 2009 and present. Height, weight, and BP were measured by trained staff and internet experiences quantified by questionnaire. Race was defined as African-American or other race. Cyberbullying was defined as self-report in the past year of being worried or threatened because of being bothered or harassed online or of being embarrassed by others online. Overweight/ obesity was defined as BMI >=85th percentile for gender and age. Elevated BP was defined as a SBP or DBP >=90th percentile for gender, age and height. Logistic regression models were fit to estimate the association of cyberbulling with overweight/obesity or elevated BP.

Results As of October, 2010, 190 adolescents with complete data have been recruited into the study. Mean age was 16.5±1.0 years; 76 (40%) were male and 112 (59.0%) were African-American. Mean BMI of adolescents was 24.2±6.4 kg/m^2 and mean SBP and DBP were 117.7±11.3 mmHg and 63.9±7.1mmHg, respectively; 62 (32.6%) were classified as overweight/obese and 28 (14.7%) had an elevated BP. A total of 29 (15.3%) adolescents reported being cyberbullied; older adolescents (P=0.061) were more likely and African-Americans (P=0.040) were less likely to report being cyberbullied. Gender was not associated with cyberbullying (P=0.143). Cyberbullying was not associated with overweight/obesity (P=0.951) or elevated BP (P=0.701), after adjustment for other risk factors.

Conclusions CVD risk factors in youth track into adulthood, thus early-life experiences represent important and potentially modifiable predictors of adult disease. In this study, self-reported experiences of cyberbullying were not associated with being overweight/obese or with elevated BP. Continued study of psychosocial risk factors, including cyberbullying, with adolescent CVD health is warranted.