Tracking Trajectories of Psychopathology from Infancy to Young Adulthood: an Irish national longitudinal cohort study

Approximately 30-50% of people will experience a mental disorder over the course of their life and the majority of mental disorders begin in adolescence. Despite a shift toward 'early intervention' strategies in many medical specialities, psychiatry lags behind in this regard. There is a pressing need to identify the early life characteristics that increase or reduce the risk of mental disorder. Reducing risk and promoting protective factors in early life may reduce the incidence of disorder later in life.

There is also an urgent need to identify the trajectories of early psychological symptoms. For some people psychological symptoms are temporary, but for others, these symptoms persist with poorer outcomes. Little research has distinguished between persisting and temporary symptoms, as it requires lengthy follow-up. Identifying the characteristics which distinguish these trajectories will allow us to direct resources to those who may most benefit from intervention. We propose to investigate the clustering of different psychological symptoms during childhood, adolescence and early adulthood. We will examine the early life characteristics associated with having symptoms at each developmental stage. Importantly, we will map the changes in symptoms over-time and attempt to identify the characteristics that distinguish those with persistent symptoms from those whose symptoms reduce. Finally, we will look at the broader psychosocial outcomes associated with the different groups, for example education achievements, peer and relationship experiences, and drug and alcohol use. We propose to do this using advanced statstical modelling techniques to analysis valuable data on Irish young people from the Growing-Up in Ireland (GUI) study which is a longitudinal investigation of almost 20,000 Irish children over the last decade.

Award Date
27 June 2019
Award Value
Principal Investigator
Professor Mary Cannon
Host Institution
Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland
Investigator Led Projects