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Embracing the positive: an examination of how well resilience factors at age 14 can predict distress at age 17

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Stochl, J. 
Goodyer, I. M. 
van Harmelen, A.-L. 
Wilkinson, P. O. 


Abstract: One-in-two people suffering from mental health problems develop such distress before or during adolescence. Research has shown that distress can predict itself well over time. Yet, little is known about how well resilience factors (RFs), i.e. those factors that decrease mental health problems, predict subsequent distress. Therefore, we investigated which RFs are the best indicators for subsequent distress and with what accuracy RFs predict subsequent distress. We examined three interpersonal (e.g. friendships) and seven intrapersonal RFs (e.g. self-esteem) and distress in 1130 adolescents, at age 14 and 17. We estimated the RFs and a continuous distress-index using factor analyses, and ordinal distress-classes using factor mixture models. We then examined how well age-14 RFs and age-14 distress predict age-17 distress, using stepwise linear regressions, relative importance analyses, as well as ordinal and linear prediction models. Low brooding, low negative and high positive self-esteem RFs were the most important indicators for age-17 distress. RFs and age-14 distress predicted age-17 distress similarly. The accuracy was acceptable for ordinal (low/moderate/high age-17 distress-classes: 62–64%), but low for linear models (37–41%). Crucially, the accuracy remained similar when only self-esteem and brooding RFs were used instead of all ten RFs (ordinal = 62%; linear = 37%); correctly predicting for about two-in-three adolescents whether they have low, moderate or high distress 3 years later. RFs, and particularly brooding and self-esteem, seem to predict subsequent distress similarly well as distress can predict itself. As assessing brooding and self-esteem can be strength-focussed and is time-efficient, those RFs may be promising for risk-detection and translational intervention research.



Article, /692/699/476, /692/699, article

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Translational Psychiatry

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Nature Publishing Group UK