Trajectories of childhood internalizing and externalizing psychopathology and psychotic-like experiences in adolescence: A prospective population-based cohort study.


Adolescent internalizing and externalizing psychopathology is strongly associated with adult psychiatric morbidity, including psychotic disorders. This study examined whether internalizing or externalizing trajectories (continuity/discontinuity of symptoms) from middle childhood were associated with adolescent psychotic-like experiences (PLEs). Prospective data were collected from a community sample of 553 children (mean age = 10.4 years; 50% male) and their primary caregivers. Participants completed questionnaire reports of internalizing and externalizing psychopathology and PLEs at baseline, and again approximately 2 years later. Logistic regression was used to examine the association of adolescent PLEs with four trajectories of internalizing and externalizing psychopathology (persistent, incident, remitting, and none), controlling for a range of potential confounders and sampling bias. Significant associations were identified between adolescent PLEs and the incident internalizing (adjusted odds ratio [adj. OR] = 2.96; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.60-5.49) and externalizing psychopathology (adj. OR = 2.14; 95% CI = 1.11-4.14) trajectories, as well as the persistent internalizing (adj. OR = 1.90; 95% CI = 1.13-3.18) and externalizing (adj. OR = 1.81, 95% CI = 1.02-3.19) trajectories. Children with remitting psychopathology trajectories were no more likely to present later PLEs than those who never experienced psychopathology. While for many individuals symptoms and illness remit during development without intervention, this study provides important insights regarding potential targets and timing for delivery of early intervention and prevention programs.