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Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2018 Oct;27(10):1239-1260. doi: 10.1007/s00787-017-1053-4. Epub 2017 Oct 6.

Conduct problems trajectories and psychosocial outcomes: a systematic review and meta-analysis.

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University College London GOS Institute of Child Health, 30 Guilford Street, London, WC1N 1EH, UK.
School of Social Sciences, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, EH14 4AS, UK.
Department of Psychology, King's College London Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, De Crespigny Park, London, SE5 8AF, UK.
University College London GOS Institute of Child Health, 30 Guilford Street, London, WC1N 1EH, UK.


There is increasing evidence that youth who follow the early onset persistent (EOP), adolescent-onset (AO) and childhood-limited (CL) trajectories of conduct problems show varying patterns of health, mental health, educational, and social outcomes in adulthood. However, there has been no systematic review and meta-analysis on outcomes associated with different conduct problems trajectories. We systematically reviewed the literature of longitudinal studies considering outcomes of three conduct problems trajectories: EOP, AO, and CL compared with individuals with low levels of conduct problems (low). We performed a series of meta-analyses comparing each trajectory to the low group for eight different outcomes in early adulthood or later. Thirteen studies met our inclusion criteria. Outcomes were mental health (depression), cannabis use, alcohol use, self-reported aggression, official records of antisocial behaviour, poor general health, poor education, and poor employment. Overall, EOP individuals showed significant higher risk of poor outcome followed by AO individuals, CL individuals, and finally participants in the low group. All conduct problems trajectories showed higher risk of poor psychosocial outcomes compared to the low group, but the magnitude of risk differed across trajectories, with a general trend for the EOP to perform significantly worse, followed by the AO and CL. Early intervention is recommended across domains to maximise likelihood of desistance from antisocial behaviour and improvement on several psychosocial outcomes.


Conduct problems; Longitudinal; Meta-analysis; Psychosocial outcomes; Trajectories

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