Predicting Adult Physical Health Outcomes from Childhood Aggression, Social Withdrawal and Likeability: A 30-Year Prospective, Longitudinal Study

Abstract

Background

Literature suggests that early patterns of aggressive behavior in both girls and boys are predictive of a variety of health risks in adulthood. However, longitudinal examination of predictive links between childhood aggression and negative adult physical health outcomes and overall medical service usage has not been done.

Purpose

The purpose of the present investigation is to extend the current body of knowledge regarding the long-term negative physical health sequelae of aggression observed in childhood, by examining direct and indirect paths (through educational attainment) from childhood aggression and other behavioral characteristics to poor physical health in middle adulthood.

Method

This study was carried out within the Concordia Longitudinal Risk Project, a study of over 4,000 individuals recruited as children in the 1970s from inner-city schools in Montreal.

Results

Childhood aggression was found to directly and positively predict medical service usage, as well as medical visits due to lifestyle-related illnesses and injuries, with indirect paths through educational attainment also present.

Conclusion

The findings from this study suggest that childhood aggression may be an identifiable precursor of poor health and increased service usage in adulthood and are relevant to preventative intervention.

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This research was partially supported by grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, and the Fonds Québécois de la Recherche sur la Société et la Culture. The Concordia Longitudinal Risk Project was initiated in 1976 by Jane Ledingham and Alex Schwartzman. The authors wish to thank Claude Senneville, and the Concordia Project team for their assistance in data collection and analysis. Finally, we are most indebted to the participants in the study.

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Correspondence to Caroline E. Temcheff or Lisa A. Serbin.

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Temcheff, C.E., Serbin, L.A., Martin-Storey, A. et al. Predicting Adult Physical Health Outcomes from Childhood Aggression, Social Withdrawal and Likeability: A 30-Year Prospective, Longitudinal Study. Int.J. Behav. Med. 18, 5–12 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12529-010-9082-0

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Keywords

  • Adult physical health
  • Childhood aggression
  • High-psychosocial risk
  • Prospective
  • Longitudinal