Functional outcomes of child and adolescent mental disorders. Current disorder most important but psychiatric history matters as well
Background. Various sources indicate that mental disorders are the leading contributor to the burden of disease among youth. An important determinant of functioning is current mental health status. This study investigated whether psychiatric history has additional predictive power when predicting individual differences in functional outcomes. Method. We used data from the Dutch TRAILS study in which 1778 youths were followed from pre-adolescence into young adulthood (retention 80%). Of those, 1584 youths were successfully interviewed, at age 19, using the World Health Organization Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI 3.0) to assess current and past CIDI-DSM-IV mental disorders. Four outcome domains were assessed at the same time: economic (e.g. academic achievement, social benefits, financial difficulties), social (early motherhood, interpersonal conflicts, antisocial behavior), psychological (e.g. suicidality, subjective well-being, loneliness), and health behavior (e.g. smoking, problematic alcohol, cannabis use). Results. Out of the 19 outcomes, 14 were predicted by both current and past disorders, three only by past disorders (receiving social benefits, psychiatric hospitalization, adolescent motherhood), and two only by current disorder (absenteeism, obesity). Which type of disorders was most important depended on the outcome. Adjusted for current disorder, past internalizing disorders predicted in particular psychological outcomes while externalizing disorders predicted in particular health behavior outcomes. Economic and social outcomes were predicted by a history of co-morbidity of internalizing and externalizing disorder. The risk of problematic cannabis use and alcohol consumption dropped with a history of internalizing disorder.
Conclusion. To understand current functioning, it is necessary to examine both current and past psychiatric status.