Conduct problems trajectories and psychosocial outcomes: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Leonardo Bevilacqua*, Daniel Hale, Edward Barker, Russell Viner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

108 Citations (Scopus)
653 Downloads (Pure)


There is increasing evidence that youth who follow the early onset persistent (EOP), adolescent-onset (AO) and childhood-limited (CL) trajectories of conduct problems show varying patterns of health, mental health, educational, and social outcomes in adulthood. However, there has been no systematic review and meta-analysis on outcomes associated with different conduct problems trajectories. We systematically reviewed the literature of longitudinal studies considering outcomes of three conduct problems trajectories: EOP, AO, and CL compared with individuals with low levels of conduct problems (low). We performed a series of meta-analyses comparing each trajectory to the low group for eight different outcomes in early adulthood or later. Thirteen studies met our inclusion criteria. Outcomes were mental health (depression), cannabis use, alcohol use, self-reported aggression, official records of antisocial behaviour, poor general health, poor education, and poor employment. Overall, EOP individuals showed significant higher risk of poor outcome followed by AO individuals, CL individuals, and finally participants in the low group. All conduct problems trajectories showed higher risk of poor psychosocial outcomes compared to the low group, but the magnitude of risk differed across trajectories, with a general trend for the EOP to perform significantly worse, followed by the AO and CL. Early intervention is recommended across domains to maximise likelihood of desistance from antisocial behaviour and improvement on several psychosocial outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-22
Number of pages22
JournalEuropean child & adolescent psychiatry
Early online date6 Oct 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 6 Oct 2017


  • Conduct problems
  • Longitudinal
  • Meta-analysis
  • Psychosocial outcomes
  • Trajectories


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