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Optimising adult mental health outcomes in children with neurodevelopmental problems: Interplay of social and genetic factors

Ushaw, Lorna 2023. Optimising adult mental health outcomes in children with neurodevelopmental problems: Interplay of social and genetic factors. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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Background: Previous research has indicated that individuals with ADHD have an increased likelihood of developing mental health problems including depression, anxiety, and conduct disorder. However, not all individuals who experience childhood ADHD will go on to have poor mental health outcomes and why some individuals with ADHD show higher levels of mental health resilience than others is not yet clear. Methods: Data were utilised from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children, a population-based birth cohort. A symptom based high-risk ADHD group was identified in childhood. Mental health resilience in young adulthood was measured both as the absence of any mental health problem and as better-thanexpected mental health. Regression analyses were used to investigate associations with individual, social, and family protective factors across childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood. Also, mediation analyses were used to examine pathways between childhood father involvement and young adult emotional problems using structural equation modelling. Results: Across childhood and adolescence, peer relationships, family relationships, and self-esteem all demonstrated long-lasting association with better mental health in young adulthood. In young adulthood practical and emotional support showed strong associations with better mental health outcomes across depression, anxiety, and conduct problems. Support continued to show a strong association once adult ADHD symptoms had been accounted for. Lastly, adolescent self-esteem was found to partly explain the relationship between childhood father involvement and fewer emotional problems at age 25 years. Conclusion: Findings from this thesis identified that a group of individuals who experienced high childhood ADHD symptoms were resilience to mental health problems in young adulthood. Key factors including childhood father involvement, xiii family relationship quality, adolescent self-esteem, adolescent and young adult peer relationships, and practical and emotional support in young adulthood should be further explored as targets of preventative interventions aimed at improving mental health outcomes for those with ADHD.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Medicine
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 25 September 2023
Last Modified: 25 Sep 2023 12:55

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