Disentangling multiproblem behavior in male young adults: A cluster analysis

Dev Psychopathol. 2021 Feb;33(1):149-159. doi: 10.1017/S0954579419001652.


Multiproblem young adults present with major problems across key life domains, but empirical studies investigating the nature of multiproblem behavior in accordance to ecobiodevelopmental theory are scarce. To address this gap, we performed a cluster analysis on indicators spanning the key life domains addiction, mental health, social network, and justice. In a large sample (N = 680) of multiproblem young adults, we identified five subgroups labeled "severe with alcohol and cannabis problems" (4.3%), "severe with cannabis problems" (25.6%), "severe without alcohol or drug problems" (33.2%), "moderate with mental health problems" (22.9%), and "moderate without mental health problems" (14.0%). There were large differences between the severe and moderate groups in terms of childhood risk factors such as emotional and physical abuse, concerning baseline functioning such as comorbid disorders and aggressive behavior, and in the outcome measure of violent offending. Our findings indicate that multiproblem young adult behavior clusters within profiles that differ according to the severity and nature of problems. Investing in screening for clustered problems may be beneficial for early problem differentiation and selection of appropriate intervention before and during treatment programs.

Keywords: cluster analysis; delinquency; emerging adulthood; life domains; multiproblem.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aggression*
  • Child
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Health*
  • Risk Factors
  • Young Adult