Childhood police encounters, social isolation and epigenetic age acceleration among older U.S. adults.

TitleChildhood police encounters, social isolation and epigenetic age acceleration among older U.S. adults.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2022
AuthorsDas, A
JournalSocial Science & Medicine
ISSN Number1873-5347
KeywordsChildhood police encounters, Epigenetic age acceleration, Heterogenous treatment effects, Regression-with-residuals, social isolation

OBJECTIVES: This study examined associations of childhood police encounters with biological age acceleration in later life, and their mediation by subjective or objective social isolation.

METHODS: Data were from the Health and Retirement Study, nationally representative of older U.S. adults. Age acceleration was proxied through newly available epigenetic measures. Doubly robust estimation was used to establish baseline linkages, and heterogenous treatment effect models to examine variations in effects by one's increasing propensity for early police encounters. Mediation analysis was through a recently developed regression-with-residuals approach for structural nested mean models.

RESULTS: Childhood police encounters was prospectively associated with age acceleration. Those with such early experiences also reported more loneliness and isolation from their community, although their ties to family and friends seemed stronger. Associations did not significantly decline with increasing propensity for such childhood experiences. Treatment effects on age acceleration seemed partly mediated by loneliness and by community isolation.

DISCUSSION: Findings add to the growing evidence on the "long arm of childhood," and highlight public health implications of policy-driven social exposures.

Citation Key12347
PubMed ID35421810