The following is the summary of “First-Generation College Students, Emotional Support, and Systemic Inflammation Following the College Transition” published in the January 2023 issue of  Adolescent Health by Jones, et al.

The goal of this study is to test whether the presence or absence of emotional support moderates the correlation between college generation status and current and future systemic inflammation in an older U.S. adolescent sample making the transition to higher education. The demographics and level of emotional support of 41 first-generation college students (first-gens) and 46 continuing-generation college students (continuing-gens) in their first semester at a 4-year university were compared. In addition, they had blood collected midway through the first and second semesters to check C-reactive protein and interleukin-6 levels. Finally, all semesters’ log-transformed C-reactive protein and interleukin-6 standardized scores were averaged to produce an inflammatory composite.

 There was a significant difference between the levels of systemic inflammation in first-gen and continuing-gen students at the end of the first semester (B=0.515, P=.003), even after controlling for factors such as emotional support. In the second semester (B=−0.525, P=.007). However, first-gens had higher systemic inflammation than continuing-gens only if they reported lower levels of emotional support (B=0.826, P=.002), suggesting that the connection between college generation status and future systemic inflammation was mitigated by emotional support. After further controlling for first-semester systemic inflammation (B=-0.374, P=.022), the moderating impact remained significant. 

Secondary analyses investigating funding mechanisms are also mentioned. All first-generation college students may benefit from college resources provided early in the college transition, as first-gens, regardless of emotional support, experienced higher systemic inflammation in the first semester. Also, providing first-generation students with additional college resources beyond the first semester may help those who reported receiving less emotional support during their time at university.