Trajectories of stressful life events and long-term changes in mental health outcomes, moderated by family functioning? the TRAILS study

Lisette Wijbenga*, Sijmen A. Reijneveld, Josue Almansa, Eliza L. Korevaar, Jacomijn Hofstra, Andrea F. de Winter

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

30 Downloads (Pure)


Purpose: We assessed the association between trajectories of stressful life events (SLEs) throughout adolescence and changes in mental health from childhood to young adulthood. Further, we assessed whether family functioning moderated this association. Methods: Data of the first six waves of the TRAILS study (2001-2016; n = 2229) were used, a cohort followed from approximately age 11 to 23. We measured SLEs (death of a family member or other beloved one, delinquency, moving, victim of violence, parental divorce, and sexual harassment) at ages 14, 16 and 19. Family functioning was measured at all six time points using the Family Assessment Device (FAD), and mental health was measured through the Youth/Adult Self-Report at ages 11 and 23. Latent class growth analyses (LCGA) were used to examine longitudinal trajectories and associations. Results: We identified three SLE trajectories (low, middle, high) throughout adolescence, and found no significant associations between these trajectories and changes in mental health from childhood to young adulthood. Family functioning and SLE trajectories were significantly associated, however, the association of SLE trajectories and changes in mental health was not modified by family functioning. Mental health problems at age 11 increased the likelihood of high SLE trajectories during adolescence, and of experiencing negative family functioning. Conclusion: Experiencing SLEs throughout adolescence does not have a direct impact on changes in mental health from childhood to young adulthood, but early adolescence mental health problems increase the likelihood of experiencing SLEs.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106
Number of pages8
JournalChild and adolescent psychiatry and mental health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 21-Dec-2022


  • Adolescence
  • Family functioning
  • Life course
  • Mental health
  • Stressful life events
  • Young adults

Cite this