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20 year study providing insights to teenagers' health and development

Research News
Wednesday, June 10, 2015 - 9:45pm
A 20-year study led by Murdoch Children's Research Institute is creating a comprehensive picture of adolescent development and the transition in adulthood.

2000 Stories: Victorian Adolescent Health Cohort Study commenced in 1992, when a group of then high-school students completed a range of interviews about their health and wellbeing,

According to George Patton, the renowned project lead and adolescent researcher, at the time, the team had no idea of how significant adolescent health risks and problems might be for later-life health and adjustment.  

“Adolescents have been a much-forgotten group in terms of research. We have looked at many aspects of teenage health and behaviour, including mental health, personality and behaviour, school, family, and drug and alcohol use.”

Participants completed six interviews from Years 9 - 12 and three interviews in young adulthood when they were 21, 24 and 29. The group are now in their mid-30s have just completed the tenth round of interviews. 75% of the original participants are still involved.

The next phase of the research, called the Victorian Intergenerational Health Cohort Study is studying the experience of becoming a parent as well as the health and development of over a thousand of the participants’ children.  This is a unique opportunity to explore the ways in which the health of one generation may be related to the next.

“We’ve focused on how teenage experiences, health and lifestyles may affect physical and emotional health in adulthood and in the next generation. Our findings have helped bring global attention to the important role of adolescence in shaping future health.”

In 2014, the study published results in The Lancet which showed that almost a third of males and more than half of females have an episode of depression or anxiety during their teens. Findings showed however, that many episodes of depression, especially when brief in duration, are limited to these teenage years and do not carry on or recur in adulthood.

Find out more about the study here.

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