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Developmental cascades of internalising symptoms, externalising problems and cognitive ability from early childhood to middle adolescence

Flouri, E; Papachristou, E; Midouhas, E; Ploubidis, GB; Lewis, G; Joshi, H; (2019) Developmental cascades of internalising symptoms, externalising problems and cognitive ability from early childhood to middle adolescence. European Psychiatry , 57 pp. 61-69. 10.1016/j.eurpsy.2018.12.005.

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Abstract

BACKGROUND: Cognitive ability and problem behaviour (externalising and internalising problems) are variable and inter-related in children. However, it is not known if they mutually influence one another, if difficulties in one cause difficulties in the other, or if they are related only because they share causes. METHODS: Random-intercept cross-lagged models adjusted for confounding were fitted to explore this in 17,318 (51% male) children of the UK's Millennium Cohort Study at ages 3, 5, 7, 11 and 14 years. Externalising and internalising problems were assessed using the parent-reported Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire. Cognitive ability was measured using standardised scores of age-appropriate validated cognitive ability assessments. Where multiple cognitive assessments were available a single score was derived using principal components analysis. RESULTS: There was much evidence for cross-domain longitudinal effects in childhood, especially for cognitive ability (on both internalising and externalising problems and in both males and females) and externalising problems (on internalising problems in both genders and cognitive ability in males). Bidirectional effects were childhood-limited, gender-specific and less consistent. The consistent bidirectional associations were, in males, between externalising problems and cognitive ability, and, in females, between externalising and internalising problems (although the effects of internalising problems were weak). In adolescence, only externalising problems had cross-domain effects such that, in both genders, they were associated with lower cognitive ability in subsequent measurements and increased levels of internalising problems. CONCLUSIONS: In either childhood or adolescence, reducing behavioural problems could have both emotional and cognitive benefits. In childhood, improving cognitive skills could reduce both emotional and behavioural problems.

Type: Article
Title: Developmental cascades of internalising symptoms, externalising problems and cognitive ability from early childhood to middle adolescence
Location: France
DOI: 10.1016/j.eurpsy.2018.12.005
Publisher version: http://doi.org/10.1016/j.eurpsy.2018.12.005
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Adolescence, Childhood, Cognitive ability, Developmental cascades, Externalising problems, Internalising problems
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Psychology and Human Development
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Social Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Division of Psychiatry
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10067669
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