To describe long term outcomes associated with externalising behaviour in adolescence, defined in this study as conduct problems reported by a teacher, in a population based sample.
Main outcome measures Mental disorder, alcohol abuse, relationship difficulties, highest level of education, social class, unemployment, and financial difficulties at ages 36-53.
348 adolescents were identified with severe externalising behaviour, 1051 with mild externalising behaviour, and 2253 with no externalising behaviour. All negative outcomes measured in adulthood were more common in those with severe or mild externalising behaviour in adolescence, as rated by teachers, compared with those with no externalising behaviour. Adolescents with severe externalising behaviour were more likely to leave school without any qualifications (65.2%; adjusted odds ratio 4.0, 95% confidence interval 2.9 to 5.5), as were those with mild externalising behaviour (52.2%; 2.3, 1.9 to 2.8), compared with those with no externalising behaviour (30.8%). On a composite measure of global adversity throughout adulthood that included mental health, family life and relationships, and educational and economic problems, those with severe externalising behaviour scored significantly higher (40.1% in top quarter), as did those with mild externalising behaviour (28.3%), compared with those with no externalising behaviour (17.0%).
Adolescents who exhibit externalising behaviour experience multiple social and health impairments that adversely affect them, their families, and society throughout adult life.
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Podcast - Angry adolescent; upset adult [15:53m]: