European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry

, Volume 24, Issue 7, pp 815–826 | Cite as

Childhood friendships and psychological difficulties in young adulthood: an 18-year follow-up study

  • Kwame S. SakyiEmail author
  • Pamela J. Surkan
  • Eric Fombonne
  • Aude Chollet
  • Maria Melchior
Original Contribution


Childhood friendships have been shown to impact mental health over the short term; however, it is unclear whether these effects are sustained into young adulthood. We studied the prospective association between childhood friendships and psychological difficulties in young adulthood. Data come from 1,103 French 22–35 year olds participating in the TEMPO study. Childhood friendships were ascertained in 1991 when participants were 4–16 years old. Psychological difficulties were measured in 2009 using the Adult Self-Report. Logistic regression models controlled for participants’ age, sex, childhood psychological difficulties and parental characteristics. Young adults who had no childhood friends had higher odds of psychological difficulties than those with at least one friend: (adjusted ORs 2.45; 95 % CI 1.32–4.66, p = 0.01 for high internalizing symptoms; 1.81; 95 % CI 0.94–3.54, p = 0.08 for high externalizing symptoms). Social relations early in life may have consequences for adult psychological well-being.


Internalizing symptoms Externalizing symptoms Childhood Young adulthood Friendship Social support Social network 



The authors wish to thank the GAZEL cohort study team for help in implementing the TEMPO study. This research was supported by the French Ministry of Health–IReSP (TGIR Cohortes, 2010 Research Call), the French Interdepartmental Mission for the Fight Against Drugs and Drug Addiction (MILDT), the French Institute of Cancer (INCa), and the French Foundation for Research on Psychiatry and Mental Health (FRPSM). Kwame Sakyi is supported by National Institute of Health’s training grant—T32DA13911. Maria Melchior is the recipient of a Young Researcher Award from the French National Research Agency (ANR).

Conflict of interest

The authors declare they have no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kwame S. Sakyi
    • 1
    Email author
  • Pamela J. Surkan
    • 1
  • Eric Fombonne
    • 2
  • Aude Chollet
    • 3
    • 4
  • Maria Melchior
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.Social and Behavioral Interventions Program, Department of International HealthJohns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public HealthBaltimoreUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychiatryOregon Health & Science UniversityPortlandUSA
  3. 3.Centre for Research in Epidemiology and Population Health (CESP), Epidemiology of Occupational and Social Determinants of HealthINSERMVillejuifFrance
  4. 4.Univ Versailles St-QuentinVersaillesFrance

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