Conduct Disorder in Immigrant Children and Adolescents: A Nationwide Cohort Study in Sweden

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021 Oct 11;18(20):10643. doi: 10.3390/ijerph182010643.


Introduction: Conduct disorder is a psychiatric diagnosis characterized by repetitive and persistent norm-breaking behavior. This study aimed to compare the risk of conduct disorder between first- and second-generation immigrant children and adolescents and their native controls.

Methods: In this nationwide, open-cohort study from Sweden, participants were born 1987-2010, aged 4-16 years at baseline, and were living in the country for at least one year during the follow-up period between 2001 and 2015. The sample included 1,902,526 and 805,450 children-adolescents with native and immigrant backgrounds, respectively. Data on the conduct disorder diagnoses were retrieved through the National Patient Register. We estimated the incidence of conduct disorder and calculated adjusted Hazard Ratios.

Results: Overall, the adjusted risk of conduct disorder was lower among first-generation immigrants and most second-generation immigrant groups compared with natives (both males and females). However, second-generation immigrants with a Swedish-born mother and a foreign-born father had a higher risk of conduct disorder than natives. Similar results were found for sub-diagnoses of conduct disorder.

Conclusions: The higher risk of conduct disorder among second-generation immigrants with a Swedish-born mother and the lower risk among most of the other immigrant groups warrants special attention and an investigation of potential underlying mechanisms.

Keywords: Sweden; adolescents; children; cohort; conduct disorder; immigrants; real-world data; register-based research.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Cohort Studies
  • Conduct Disorder* / epidemiology
  • Emigrants and Immigrants*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Sweden / epidemiology