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Psychological distress from early adulthood to early old age: evidence from the 1946, 1958 and 1970 British birth cohorts

Gondek, D; Bann, D; Patalay, P; Goodman, A; McElroy, E; Richards, M; Ploubidis, GB; (2021) Psychological distress from early adulthood to early old age: evidence from the 1946, 1958 and 1970 British birth cohorts. Psychological Medicine 10.1017/S003329172000327X. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

Background: Existing evidence on profiles of psychological distress across adulthood uses cross-sectional or longitudinal studies with short observation periods. The objective of this research was to study the profile of psychological distress within the same individuals from early adulthood to early old age across three British birth cohorts. / Methods: We used data from three British birth cohorts: born in 1946 (n = 3093), 1958 (n = 13 250) and 1970 (n = 12 019). The profile of psychological distress – expressed both as probability of being a clinical case or a count of symptoms based on comparable items within and across cohorts – was modelled using the multilevel regression framework. / Results: In both 1958 and 1970 cohorts, there was an initial drop in the probability of being a case between ages 23–26 and 33–34. Subsequently, the predicted probability of being a case increased from 12.5% at age 36 to 19.5% at age 53 in the 1946 cohort; from 8.0% at age 33 to 13.7% at age 42 in the 1958 cohort and from 15.7% at age 34 to 19.7% at age 42 in the 1970 cohort. In the 1946 cohort, there was a drop in the probability of caseness between ages 60–64 and 69 (19.5% v. 15.2%). Consistent results were obtained with the continuous version of the outcome. / Conclusions: Across three post-war British birth cohorts midlife appears to be a particularly vulnerable phase for experiencing psychological distress. Understanding the reasons for this will be important for the prevention and management of mental health problems.

Type: Article
Title: Psychological distress from early adulthood to early old age: evidence from the 1946, 1958 and 1970 British birth cohorts
Location: England
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1017/S003329172000327X
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1017/S003329172000327X
Language: English
Additional information: This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Keywords: Adulthood, BCS70, British birth cohorts, NCDS, NSHD, common mental disorders, life course, mental health, psychological distress, trajectory
UCL classification: UCL
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 - Social Research Institute
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 Population Health Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Cardiovascular Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Cardiovascular Science > Population Science and Experimental Medicine
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Cardiovascular Science > Population Science and Experimental Medicine > MRC Unit for Lifelong Hlth and Ageing
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health > Epidemiology and Public Health
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10119828
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