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Association between psychological distress trajectories from adolescence to midlife and mental health during the pandemic: evidence from two British birth cohorts

Moulton, V; Sullivan, A; Patalay, P; Fitzsimons, E; Henderson, M; Bann, D; Ploubidis, GB; (2023) Association between psychological distress trajectories from adolescence to midlife and mental health during the pandemic: evidence from two British birth cohorts. Psychological Medicine 10.1017/S0033291722003877. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

BACKGROUND: This paper examined whether distinct life-course trajectories of psychological distress from adolescence to midlife were associated with poorer mental health outcomes during the pandemic. METHODS: We present a secondary analysis of two nationally representative British birth cohorts, the 1958 National Child Development Study (NCDS) and 1970 British Cohort Study (BCS70). We used latent variable mixture models to identify pre-pandemic longitudinal trajectories of psychological distress and a modified Poisson model with robust standard errors to estimate associations with psychological distress, life satisfaction and loneliness at different points during the pandemic. RESULTS: Our analysis identified five distinct pre-pandemic trajectories of psychological distress in both cohorts. All trajectories with prior symptoms of psychological distress irrespective of age of onset, severity and chronicity were associated with a greater relative risk of poorer mental health outcomes during the pandemic and the probability of poorer mental health associated with psychological distress trajectories remained fairly constant. The relationship was not fully attenuated when most recent pre-pandemic psychological distress and other midlife factors were controlled for. CONCLUSIONS: Whilst life-course trajectories with any prior symptoms of psychological distress put individuals at greater risk of poor mental health outcomes during the pandemic, those with chronic and more recent occurrences were at highest risk. In addition, prior poor mental health during the adult life-course may mean individuals are less resilient to shocks, such as pandemics. Our findings show the importance of considering heterogeneous mental health trajectories across the life-course in the general population in addition to population average trends.

Type: Article
Title: Association between psychological distress trajectories from adolescence to midlife and mental health during the pandemic: evidence from two British birth cohorts
Location: England
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1017/S0033291722003877
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0033291722003877
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author(s), 2023. Published by Cambridge University Press. 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, provided the original article is properly cited.
Keywords: COVID-19, life satisfaction, life-course, loneliness, mental health, midlife, psychological distress, trajectories
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
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 > 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
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10167040
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