European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry

, Volume 26, Issue 12, pp 1409–1422 | Cite as

Stressful life events during adolescence and risk for externalizing and internalizing psychopathology: a meta-analysis

  • Jaume March-Llanes
  • Laia Marqués-Feixa
  • Laura Mezquita
  • Lourdes Fañanás
  • Jorge Moya-Higueras


The main objective of the present research was to analyze the relations between stressful life events and the externalizing and internalizing spectra of psychopathology using meta-analytical procedures. After removing the duplicates, a total of 373 papers were found in a literature search using several bibliographic databases, such as the PsycINFO, Medline, Scopus, and Web of Science. Twenty-seven studies were selected for the meta-analytical analysis after applying different inclusion and exclusion criteria in different phases. The statistical procedure was performed using a random/mixed-effects model based on the correlations found in the studies. Significant positive correlations were found in cross-sectional and longitudinal studies. A transactional effect was then found in the present study. Stressful life events could be a cause, but also a consequence, of psychopathological spectra. The level of controllability of the life events did not affect the results. Special attention should be given to the usage of stressful life events in gene–environment interaction and correlation studies, and also for clinical purposes.


Stressful life events Externalizing spectrum Internalizing spectrum Meta-analysis Transaction 



Thanks to the Comissionat per a Universitats i Recerca del DIUE, Generalitat de Catalunya (2014SGR1636); the Centre for Biomedical Research in the Mental Health Network (CIBERSAM) Intramural Project (SAM15PI12); the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitivity (ES-EUEpiBrain project, Grant SAF2015-71526-REDT); the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitivity, Instituto de Salud Carlos III (PI15/00097)—Ayuda cofinanciada por el Fondo Europeo de Desarrollo Regional (FEDER). “Una manera de hacer Europa”. Thanks to the Secretaria d’Universitats i Recerca del Departament d’Empresa i Coneixement de la Generalitat de Catalunya (expedient 2017FI-B00258).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

The manuscript does not contain clinical studies or patient data.

Supplementary material

787_2017_996_MOESM1_ESM.docx (38 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 37 kb)
787_2017_996_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (489 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (PDF 488 kb).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jaume March-Llanes
    • 1
  • Laia Marqués-Feixa
    • 2
  • Laura Mezquita
    • 3
  • Lourdes Fañanás
    • 2
    • 4
  • Jorge Moya-Higueras
    • 1
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Psychology, Faculty of Education, Psychology, and Social WorkUniversity of LleidaLleidaSpain
  2. 2.Department of Evolutionary Biology, Ecology, and Environmental Sciences, Faculty of BiologyUniversity of Barcelona, Biomedicine Institute of the University of Barcelona (IBUB)BarcelonaSpain
  3. 3.Department of Basic and Clinical Psychology and PsychobiologyJaume I UniversityCastelló De La PlanaSpain
  4. 4.Instituto De Salud Carlos III, Centro De Investigación Biomédica en Red de Salud Mental (CIBERSAM)MadridSpain

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