The Zurich long-term outcome study of child and adolescent psychiatric disorders in males

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Abstract

Background

Within the framework of developmental psychopathology the outcome of male former child and adolescent psychiatric patients at age 36 or 38 was studied in order to add to the limited knowledge in this field.

Methods

A total of 269 former child psychiatric patients of male sex and a control group of more than 2700 men, who were all born in 1952, were compared with regard to mortality, delinquency and adult psychiatric disorders. The study was based on case-file data from assessments conducted with the child and adolescent psychiatric patients and on adults, derived from either federal registers (mortality, delinquency) or army health records and records of the psychiatric facilities of the canton. The study is based on lifetime prevalence rates.

Results

The two samples did not differ with regard to mortality rates. Delinquency tended to be more prevalent and psychiatric disorders were significantly more prevalent among the former child psychiatric patients. Close to 10% of the latter group showed major delinquency, one-quarter was psychiatrically disturbed and 30% displayed one of these two indicators or maladjustment at least once during the follow-up period. A correspondence in pattern of varying between child and adult psychiatric spectrum disorders was observed. Whereas the type of child and adolescent psychiatric disorders did not predict adult maladjustment, there was some indication that deprived environments, broken homes and parental psychiatric disorders during childhood increased the likelihood of poor adult outcome.

Conclusions

This study clearly underlines the long-term negative effects of child and adolescent mental abnormalities in males.

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