Growing into disability benefits? Psychosocial course of life of young adults with a chronic somatic disease or disability

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A growing number of young adults with somatic diseases/disabilities since childhood apply for disability benefits. The achievement of psychosocial milestones while growing up (course of life) is assumed to be related to job participation. This study assessed the course of life of young adult beneficiaries with somatic limitations compared with peers from the general Dutch population.


Young adult beneficiaries (22–31 years, N = 415) completed the Course of Life Questionnaire assessing the achievement of milestones on autonomy, psychosexual and social development and risk behaviour. Differences between respondents and peers were tested using analysis of variance and logistic regression analysis by group, age and gender. Associations were expressed as odds ratios (OR) with confidence intervals.


The beneficiaries achieved fewer milestones or achieved the milestones at a later age than peers. The differences were substantial: most effect sizes were moderate to large and most of the ORs lower than 0.5.


Young adult beneficiaries with somatic limitations since childhood are at risk of a delayed course of life. Healthcare providers should pay systematic attention to the psychosocial developmental trajectory of their patients in order to optimize their development to adulthood and, consequently, create conditions for an optimal labour market position.

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