A test of the vulnerability model: temperament and temperament change as predictors of future mental disorders – the TRAILS study › Trails

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A test of the vulnerability model: temperament and temperament change as predictors of future mental disorders – the TRAILS study

Background. This study aimed to test the vulnerability model of the relationship between temperament and mental disorders using a large sample of adolescents from the TRacking Adolescents Individual Lives' Survey (TRAILS). The vulnerability model argues that particular temperaments can place individuals at risk for the development of mental health problems. Importantly, the model may imply that not only baseline temperament predicts mental health problems prospectively, but additionally, that changes in temperament predict corresponding changes in risk for mental health problems. Methods. Data were used from 1195 TRAILS participants. Adolescent temperament was assessed both at age 11 and at age 16. Onset of mental disorders between age 16 and 19 was assessed at age 19, by means of the World Health Organization Composite International Diagnostic Interview (WHO CIDI). Results. Results showed that temperament at age 11 predicted future mental disorders, thereby providing support for the vulnerability model. Moreover, temperament change predicted future mental disorders above and beyond the effect of basal temperament. For example, an increase in frustration increased the risk of mental disorders proportionally. Conclusion. This study confirms, and extends, the vulnerability model. Consequences of both temperament and temperament change were general (e.g., changes in frustration predicted both internalizing and externalizing disorders) as well as dimension specific (e.g., changes in fear predicted internalizing but not externalizing disorders). These findings confirm previous studies, which showed that mental disorders have both unique and shared underlying temperamental risk factors.

© 2013 The Authors. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry © 2013 Association for Child and Adolescent Mental Health.