Child to adult continuities of psychopathology: a 24-year follow-up

Acta Psychiatr Scand. 2009 Sep;120(3):230-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0447.2009.01422.x. Epub 2009 Jun 12.


Objective: To determine continuities of mental health problems of children across a 24-year follow-up period.

Method: In 1983, parent ratings of emotional and behavioral problems were collected with the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) in a general population sample of 2076 children. Twenty-four years later, 1365 participants completed Adult Self-Reports (ASR) to assess emotional and behavioral problems.

Results: Of the participants who were classified as deviant in childhood, 22.2% were also classified as deviant in adulthood. Both homotypic and heterotypic continuity was found. Childhood aggressive, delinquent, and anxious/depressed problems were associated with most adult psychopathology. Attention problems did not predict later problems independently.

Conclusion: Even though assessed with parent-reports in childhood and analogous self-reports in adulthood, and over a large period of 24 years, continuity of psychopathology was found from childhood into adulthood. Anxious/depressed problems, delinquent behavior and aggressive behavior in childhood are core predictors for adult psychopathology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aggression*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Conduct Disorder / diagnosis
  • Conduct Disorder / epidemiology*
  • Conduct Disorder / psychology*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / epidemiology
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / psychology
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Juvenile Delinquency / psychology*
  • Juvenile Delinquency / statistics & numerical data*
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / diagnosis
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Mental Disorders / psychology*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Social Behavior*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult