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Trajectories of childhood internalizing and externalizing psychopathology and psychotic-like experiences in adolescence: A prospective population-based cohort study

  • Kristin S. Lancefield (a1) (a2), Alessandra Raudino (a3) (a4), Johnny M. Downs (a1) and Kristin R. Laurens (a1) (a3) (a4)
Abstract

Adolescent internalizing and externalizing psychopathology is strongly associated with adult psychiatric morbidity, including psychotic disorders. This study examined whether internalizing or externalizing trajectories (continuity/discontinuity of symptoms) from middle childhood were associated with adolescent psychotic-like experiences (PLEs). Prospective data were collected from a community sample of 553 children (mean age = 10.4 years; 50% male) and their primary caregivers. Participants completed questionnaire reports of internalizing and externalizing psychopathology and PLEs at baseline, and again approximately 2 years later. Logistic regression was used to examine the association of adolescent PLEs with four trajectories of internalizing and externalizing psychopathology (persistent, incident, remitting, and none), controlling for a range of potential confounders and sampling bias. Significant associations were identified between adolescent PLEs and the incident internalizing (adjusted odds ratio [adj. OR] = 2.96; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.60–5.49) and externalizing psychopathology (adj. OR = 2.14; 95% CI = 1.11–4.14) trajectories, as well as the persistent internalizing (adj. OR = 1.90; 95% CI = 1.13–3.18) and externalizing (adj. OR = 1.81, 95% CI = 1.02–3.19) trajectories. Children with remitting psychopathology trajectories were no more likely to present later PLEs than those who never experienced psychopathology. While for many individuals symptoms and illness remit during development without intervention, this study provides important insights regarding potential targets and timing for delivery of early intervention and prevention programs.

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Copyright
This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Corresponding author
Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Kristin Laurens, Research Unit for Schizophrenia Epidemiology, School of Psychiatry, University of New South Wales, c/o St. Vincent's Hospital, O'Brien Centre Level 4, 394–404 Victoria Street, Darlinghurst, NSW 2010, Australia; E-mail: Kristin.Laurens@unsw.edu.au.
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