Long-term health consequences of violence exposure in adolescence: a 26-year prospective study

BMC Public Health. 2012 Jun 7;12:411. doi: 10.1186/1471-2458-12-411.


Background: Violence victimization represents a serious risk factor for health related symptoms, for both men and women. The aim of this study was to evaluate the long-term effects of violence exposure in late adolescence and early adulthood on adult health, physical as well as mental, using a long-term prospective population-based study, with a follow up of 9, 19, and 26 years.

Methods: The primary data source is a longitudinal panel from one of the longest running social science surveys in the world, the Swedish Level-of-Living surveys (LNU). We analyzed three cohorts, individuals aged 15-19 in 1974 and 1981, and individuals aged 18-19 in 1991 which were followed up 2000. Structured interviews on childhood, family relationships, life-events, living conditions, health history and status, working conditions, behavioral, psychosocial, and demographic variables were repeatedly used in all cohorts.

Results: Multivariate models of violence exposures in adolescence in the 1974-91 cohorts as predictors of adult health in 2000 are reported for both men and women. Women exposed to violence had raised odds ratios for ill health, measured as heavy illness burden, and poor self rated health, after controlling for possible confounders. No such associations were found for men.

Conclusions: This study's findings provide additional empirical support for the importance of policies and practices to identify and prevent violence exposure in adolescence and young adulthood and to supply treatments for adolescence exposed to violence and above all the young women.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies
  • Qualitative Research
  • Risk Assessment
  • Sweden
  • Time Factors
  • Violence*
  • Young Adult