Child Psychiatry & Human Development

, Volume 45, Issue 3, pp 273–284 | Cite as

Psychopathology and Academic Performance, Social Well-Being, and Social Preference at School: The TRAILS Study

  • J. J. SijtsemaEmail author
  • C. E. Verboom
  • B. W. J. H. Penninx
  • F. C. Verhulst
  • J. Ormel
Original Article


Psychopathology during adolescence has been associated with poor academic performance, low social well-being, and low social preference by peers at school. However, previous research has not accounted for comorbid psychopathology, informant-specific associations between psychopathology and functioning, and gender and age differences. This study addresses these limitations by examining adolescents’ psychopathology and functioning at school, reported by child, parent, teacher, and peers during primary and secondary school in a large Dutch longitudinal cohort study (N = 2230). Teacher reports of psychopathology, especially regarding attention problems and withdrawn/depressed problems, followed by parent reports regarding hyperactivity, were most strongly associated with academic performance. The same held for social preference which was associated with teacher and parent ratings of withdrawn/depressed problems and hyperactivity. In contrast, social well-being was best predicted by child reports (at primary school) of affective problems. In girls, the association between ADHD problems and poor academic performance was stronger than in boys and conduct problems were more often associated with poor school functioning in general. These findings can help identify adolescents at risk for poor functioning and design interventions that effectively reduce or prevent poor school functioning.


Adolescence Education Social adjustment Behavior Psychopathology 



This research is part of the TRacking Adolescents’ Individual Lives Survey (TRAILS). Participating centers of TRAILS include various departments of the University Medical Center and University of Groningen, the Erasmus University Medical Center Rotterdam, the University of Utrecht, the Radboud Medical Center Nijmegen, and the Parnassia Bavo group, all in the Netherlands. TRAILS has been financially supported by various grants from the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO), ZonMW, GB-MaGW, the Dutch Ministry of Justice, the European Science Foundation, BBMRI-NL, the participating universities, and Accare Center for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. We are grateful to all adolescents, their parents, and teachers who participated in this research, and to everyone who worked on this project and made it possible.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. J. Sijtsema
    • 1
    Email author
  • C. E. Verboom
    • 2
  • B. W. J. H. Penninx
    • 3
  • F. C. Verhulst
    • 4
  • J. Ormel
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Developmental PsychologyTilburg UniversityTilburgThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Interdisciplinary Center Psychopathology and Emotion RegulationUniversity Medical Center GroningenGroningenThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Department of PsychiatryVrije Universiteit AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  4. 4.Department of Child and Adolescent PsychiatryErasmus Medical CenterRotterdamThe Netherlands

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