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31-05-2021 | Original Article Open Access

Young Adulthood Outcomes of Joint Mental Health Trajectories: A Group-Based Trajectory Model Analysis of a 13-Year Longitudinal Cohort Study

Child Psychiatry & Human Development
Aja Louise Murray, Daniel Nagin, Ingrid Obsuth, Denis Ribeaud, Manuel Eisner
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Developmental trajectories of common mental health issues such as ADHD symptoms, internalising problems, and externalising problems can often be usefully summarised in terms of a small number of ‘developmental subtypes’ (e.g., ‘childhood onset’, ‘adolescent onset’) that may differ in their profiles or levels of clinically meaningful variables such as etiological risk factors. However, given the strong tendency for symptoms in these domains to co-occur, it is important to consider not only developmental subtypes in each domain individually, but also the joint developmental subtypes defined by symptoms trajectories in all three domains together (e.g., ‘late onset multimorbid’, ‘pure internalising’, ‘early onset multimorbid’). Previous research has illuminated the joint developmental subtypes of ADHD symptoms, internalising problems, and externalising problems that emerge from normative longitudinal data using methods such as group-based trajectory modelling, as well as predictors of membership in these developmental subtypes. However, information on the long-term outcomes of developmental subtype membership is critical to illuminate the likely nature and intensity of support needs required for individuals whose trajectories fit different developmental subtypes. We, therefore, evaluated the relations between developmental subtypes previously derived using group-based trajectory modelling in the z-proso study (n = 1620 with trajectory data at ages 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 15) and early adulthood outcomes. Individuals with multimorbid trajectories but not ‘pure’ internalising problem elevations showed higher levels of social exclusion and delinquency at age 20. These associations held irrespective of the specific developmental course of symptoms (e.g., early versus late onset versus remitting). There was also some evidence that intimate partner violence acts as a form of heterotypic continuity for earlier externalising problems. Results underline the need for early intervention to address the pathways that lead to social exclusion and delinquency among young people with multiple co-occurring mental health issues.

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