A 14-Year Predictive Study of Behavioral/Emotional Problems from Childhood to Adulthood in the Netherlands

Using a Dutch general population sample (N = 1,615), Marijka Hofstra, Jan van der Ende, & Frank Verhulst (2000) analyzed relations between CBCL/4-18 scores obtained at ages 4-16 and scores on the Young Adult Behavior Checklist (YABCL) and Young Adult Self-Report (YASR) obtained at ages 18-30.

Predictive correlations between initial CBCL scores and final YABCL and YASR scores were significant for most scales analyzed separately by age group and gender. Although 70% of the 18-30-year-olds were living away from their parents, the concurrent correlations between YABCL and YASR total problem scores were .44 for both groups.

A correlation of .44 between YABCL and YASR total problem scores was also found in an American national sample (Achenbach, 1997, Manual for the Young Adult Self-Report and Young Adult Behavior Checklist). Because this correlation was higher than typically found between parents and their younger children, it suggests convergence between parents’ perceptions and their adult offspring’s perceptions of problem behaviors, even when the offspring do not live with their parents. Hofstra et al. found that Internalizing problems, especially the Withdrawn syndrome, were among the strongest predictors of later problems.

This differs from studies of outcomes at younger ages, where Externalizing problems are often the strongest predictors. In addition, the CBCL Social Problems syndrome predicted the greatest variety of self-reported adult problems scored from the YASR.

Reference: Hofstra, M.B., Van der Ende, J., & Verhulst, F.C. (2000). Continuity and change of psychopathology from childhood into adulthood: A 14-year follow-up study. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 39, 850-858.