Trajectories of psychosocial problems in adolescents predicted by findings from early well-child assessments
Purpose: Research results on trajectories of emotional and behavioral problems are rather heterogeneous. To describe trajectories of emotional and behavioral problems in adolescents and to identify early indicators of these trajectories out of data from routine well-child assessments, at ages 0-4 years. Methods: Data from three assessment waves of adolescents (n=1816) of the Tracking Adolescents’ Individual Lives Survey (TRAILS) were used (ages 11-17). In(formation on early indicators (ages 0-4 years) came from the records of the well-child services. Trajectories of emotional and behavioral problems were based on the parent-reported Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) and the adolescent-reported Youth Self Report (YSR), filled out at ages 11, 14 and 17. Multinomial logistic regression was used to examine the predictive value of these early indicators on trajectories. Results: For boys and girls we found four trajectories for each outcome, one with high problem levels, and three with middle high, middle low, and low levels. For emotional problems, the type of trajectory was predicted by parental educational level and parental divorce or single parents, for both genders. Moreover, for boys sleep problems were predictive and for girls language problems (odds ratios between 1.53-7.42). For behavioral problems, the trajectories’ type was predicted by maternal smoking during pregnancy, parental educational level, and parental divorce or single parents, for both genders. Moreover, for boys early behavioral problems and attention hyperactivity problems were predictive (odds ratios between 1.64-5.43). Conclusion: Trajectories of emotional and behavioral problems during adolescence are rather stable and can be predicted by a parsimonious set of data from early well-child assessments.