Objective: To explore the effect of chronic health conditions in adolescence on eventual transitional paths and young adult functioning in a cohort of Finnish youths.
Design: Survey in school at age 16 years followed by postal questionnaire at age 22 years.
Methods: Youths who had reported persistent chronic conditions at ages 16 and 22 years were compared with peers without chronic health conditions, using two-way analysis of variance for continuous outcomes and logistic regression models for dichotomous outcomes, adjusting for socioeconomic differences.
Main outcome measures: Health status, chronic conditions, personal characteristics (including self-esteem), health behavior, education, family background, personal relations, and depression.
Results: Adolescents with chronic health conditions attained levels of psychosocial well-being, education, and marriage or dating as young adults similar to their peers without chronic conditions. Most of them experienced a successful transition to adulthood. Females with chronic conditions were more likely than women without chronic conditions to have moved away from their family of origin and to be living with a spouse or steady partner. Our findings also suggest that males with chronic conditions from white-collar family backgrounds may be at increased risk for symptoms of depression in early adulthood. Youths with chronic conditions had similar rates of nicotine and alcohol consumption as their healthy peers.
Conclusion: Our findings suggest that in this cohort, most adolescents with common chronic conditions had a successful transition to adulthood.