Internalizing Problems of Adults With Learning Disabilities: A Meta-Analysis

J Learn Disabil. Jul-Aug 2013;46(4):317-27. doi: 10.1177/0022219411422260. Epub 2011 Oct 4.


In this article the authors report a meta-analysis that examines the association between internalizing problems (anxiety and depressive symptoms) and learning disabilities (LD) in adults. Two hypotheses about the relationship between internalizing problems and LD in adults are posited and tested: the abeyance hypothesis (internalizing problems decline in adulthood) and the continuance hypothesis (internalizing problems continue in adulthood). From an initial pool of 171 relevant studies, 15 studies met the inclusion criteria, with eight published articles and seven dissertations yielding 48 effect sizes, N Total = 16,239). The overall effect size was significant and of medium magnitude (d = 0.51, p < .001). Results from the study suggest support for the continuance hypothesis, with rates of adult internalizing problems similar to those found in studies of children and adolescents with LD. Moderating variables are explored, and implications for practice and research are offered.

Keywords: adults; anxiety; depression; internalizing problems; learning disabilities; meta-analysis.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anxiety / epidemiology*
  • Depression / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Learning Disabilities / epidemiology*