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Stressful life events and adolescents' mental health: the TRAILS study

06 October 2010

PhD ceremony: Mr. M.P. Bakker, 16.15 uur, Academiegebouw, Broerstraat 5, Groningen

Thesis: Stressful life events and adolescents' mental health: the TRAILS study

Promotor(s): prof. A.J. Oldehinkel, prof. J. Ormel

Faculty: Medical Sciences


The general objective of this thesis is to further advance adolescent stress research by developing and testing theoretically guided models of particular stress-symptom associations. More specifically, we aim to gain more insights into stress generation and stress reaction models involving specific stressful life events. Our results show that besides internalizing problems, gender-incongruent behaviors, in our study, poor assertion in boys and poor self-control in girls contribute to being the victim of peer harassment. Peer victimization is also more likely to be the result of “deviant” behaviors than of an early physical maturation. Conflict with autorities (school, police and parents) is most likely for young adolescents with an early physical maturation and poor self-control. Out-of-school suspension might not be an appropriate response by school administrators to “punish” behavioral problems because it results in (more) behavioral problems. Childhood family instability (being exposed to an accumulation of events, like parental divorce, parental illness, moving, changing family composition and more) is associated with internalizing and externalizing problems at least until late adolescence. Most of these longterm mental health risks are not due to the continuation of family instability into adolescence, but rather to a pre-adolescent onset of mental health problems. An important conclusion of the thesis is that more complex theoretical models of mechanisms including particular stressful life events, individual characteristics, and mental health problems are needed in adolescent stress research. This would further improve our understanding about the intricate ways in which stressful life events are linked to common mental health problems.

Last modified:15 September 2017 3.39 p.m.
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