Characteristic Processes in Close Peer Friendships of Preterm Infants at Age 12Report as inadecuate

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ScientificaVolume 2012 2012, Article ID 657923, 10 pages

Research Article

College of Nursing, The University of Rhode Island, Kingston, RI 02881-2021, USA

Brown Center for the Study of Children at Risk, Women & Infants Hospital, Providence, RI 02908, USA

Department of Psychology, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL 35487-0348, USA

Department of Psychology, Suffolk University, Boston, MA 02108, USA

Received 3 June 2012; Accepted 15 July 2012

Academic Editors: F. Bloomfield and P. Callery

Copyright © 2012 Mary C. Sullivan et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Close friendships become important at middle-school age and are unexplored in adolescents born prematurely. The study aimed to characterize friendship behaviors of formerly preterm infants at age 12 and explore similarities and differences between preterm and full-term peers on dyadic friendship types. From the full sample of , one hundred sixty-six 12-year-old adolescents 40 born full term, 126 born preterm invited a close friend to a 1.5 hour videotaped laboratory play session. Twenty adolescents were unable to participate due to scheduling conflicts or developmental disability. Characteristic friendship behaviors were identified by Q-sort followed by Q-factoring analysis. Friendship duration, age, and contact differed between the full-term and preterm groups but friendship activities, behaviors, and quality were similar despite school service use. Three Q-factors, leadership, distancing, and mutual playfulness, were most characteristic of all dyads, regardless of prematurity. These prospective, longitudinal findings demonstrate diminished prematurity effects at adolescence in peer friendship behavior and reveal interpersonal dyadic processes that are important to peer group affiliation and other areas of competence.

Author: Mary C. Sullivan, Suzy Barcelos Winchester, Jeffrey G. Parker, and Amy K. Marks



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