Do adult emotional and behavioural outcomes vary as a function of diverse childhood experiences of the public care system?

Psychol Med. 2011 Oct;41(10):2213-20. doi: 10.1017/S0033291711000274. Epub 2011 Mar 4.


Background: Longitudinal data from the 1970 British Cohort Study were used to examine the long-term adult outcomes of those who, as children, were placed in public care.

Method: Multivariate logistic estimation models were used to determine whether public care and placement patterns were associated with adult psychosocial outcomes. Seven emotional and behavioural outcomes measured at age 30 years were considered: depression, life dissatisfaction, self-efficacy, alcohol problems, smoking, drug abuse, and criminal convictions.

Results: The analyses revealed a significant association between public care status and adult maladjustment on depression [odds ratio (OR) 1.74], life dissatisfaction (OR 1.45), low self-efficacy (OR 1.95), smoking (OR 1.70) and criminal convictions (OR 2.13).

Conclusions: Overall, the present study findings suggest that there are enduring influences of a childhood admission to public care on emotional and behavioural adjustment from birth to adulthood. Some of the associations with childhood public care were relatively strong, particularly with respect to depression, self-efficacy and criminal convictions.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Behavior
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Crime / psychology*
  • Depression / epidemiology*
  • Depression / psychology
  • Emotions
  • Foster Home Care / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Personal Satisfaction
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Risk Factors
  • Self Efficacy*
  • Smoking / epidemiology*
  • Smoking / psychology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology