Childhood family instability and mental health problems during late adolescence: A test of two mediation models. The TRAILS study
This study tested whether childhood family instability is associated with mental health problems during adolescence through continued family instability or rather through early onset of mental health problems, using data from a prospective population cohort of 2230 Dutch adolescents. Childhood family instability was associated with both internalizing problems and externalizing problems during late adolescence. The association between childhood family instability and adolescent mental health problems largely disappeared when controlling for early onset of mental health problems but only slightly when controlling for continued family instability during adolescence. These patterns were comparable for both types of mental health problems, but relatively stronger for internalizing problems. Growing up in an unpredictable family environment has longlasting negative mental health effects, most of which are due to early onset of mental health problems. Child health care professionals might achieve better longterm results with these at-risk children when they use individual-based interventions rather than family-based interventions.