Is involvement in school bullying associated with general health and psychosocial adjustment outcomes in adulthood?

Child Abuse Negl. 2014 Oct;38(10):1607-17. doi: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2014.06.001. Epub 2014 Jun 24.


The aim was to examine prospectively associations between bullying involvement at 14-15 years of age and self-reported general health and psychosocial adjustment in young adulthood, at 26-27 years of age. A large representative sample (N=2,464) was recruited and assessed in two counties in Mid-Norway in 1998 (T1) and 1999/2000 (T2) when the respondents had a mean age of 13.7 and 14.9, respectively, leading to classification as being bullied, bully-victim, being aggressive toward others or non-involved. Information about general health and psychosocial adjustment was gathered at a follow-up in 2012 (T4) (N=1,266) with a respondent mean age of 27.2. Logistic regression and ANOVA analyses showed that groups involved in bullying of any type in adolescence had increased risk for lower education as young adults compared to those non-involved. The group aggressive toward others also had a higher risk of being unemployed and receiving any kind of social help. Compared with the non-involved, those being bullied and bully-victims had increased risk of poor general health and high levels of pain. Bully-victims and those aggressive toward others during adolescence subsequently had increased risk of tobacco use and lower job functioning than non-involved. Further, those being bullied and aggressive toward others had increased risk of illegal drug use. Relations to live-in spouse/partner were poorer among those being bullied. Involvement in bullying, either as victim or perpetrator, has significant social costs even 12 years after the bullying experience. Accordingly, it will be important to provide early intervention for those involved in bullying in adolescence.

Keywords: Aggressive toward others; Being bullied; Bully-victim; Epidemiology; Longitudinal; Social outcomes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aggression / psychology
  • Bullying / psychology*
  • Crime Victims / psychology
  • Educational Status
  • Employment
  • Female
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Male
  • Mental Health
  • Norway
  • Pain / psychology
  • Social Adjustment
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology
  • Young Adult