Open Access Research article

Influence of psychosocial risk factors on the trajectory of mental health problems from childhood to adolescence: a longitudinal study

Daniel Fatori1*, Isabel A Bordin2, Bartira M Curto2 and Cristiane S de Paula23

Author affiliations

1 Institute of Psychiatry, University of Sao Paulo Medical School, Sao Paulo, Brazil

2 Social Psychiatry Division, Federal University of São Paulo, Sao Paulo, Brazil

3 Developmental Disorder Post Graduation Program, Mackenzie Presbyterian University, Sao Paulo, Brazil

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Citation and License

BMC Psychiatry 2013, 13:31  doi:10.1186/1471-244X-13-31

Published: 17 January 2013



Longitudinal epidemiological studies involving child/adolescent mental health problems are scarce in developing countries, particularly in regions characterized by adverse living conditions. We examined the influence of psychosocial factors on the trajectory of child/adolescent mental health problems (CAMHP) over time.


A population-based sample of 6- to 13-year-olds with CAMHP was followed-up from 2002–2003 (Time 1/T1) to 2007–2008 (Time 2/T2), with 86 out of 124 eligible children/adolescents at T1 being reassessed at T2 (sample loss: 30.6%). Outcome: CAMHP at T2 according to the Child Behavior Checklist/CBCL’s total problem scale. Psychosocial factors: T1 variables (child/adolescent’s age, family socioeconomic status); trajectory of variables from T1 to T2 (child/adolescent exposure to severe physical punishment, mother exposure to severe physical marital violence, maternal anxiety/depression); and T2 variables (maternal education, child/adolescent’s social support and pro-social activities).


Multivariate analysis identified two risk factors for child/adolescent MHP at T2: aggravation of child/adolescent physical punishment and aggravation of maternal anxiety/depression.


The current study shows the importance of considering child/adolescent physical punishment and maternal anxiety/depression in intervention models and mental health care policies.

Child; Adolescent; Violence; Epidemiology; Longitudinal studies; Psychopathology; Risk factors; Mental health; Developing countries