Sociodemographic differences in 10-year time trends of emotional and behavioural problems among adolescents attending secondary schools in Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Cornelia Leontine van Vuuren, Daan G. Uitenbroek, Marcel F. van der Wal, Mai J. M. Chinapaw

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Societal change in western societies may impact emotional and behavioural problems of adolescents. Firm epidemiological evidence of changes in emotional and behavioural problems during the last decade is lacking. Insight into secular changes in emotional and behavioural problems among adolescents from various sociodemographic groups is crucial for adequate and targeted policy making. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to examine 10-year time trends in emotional and behavioural problems among adolescents, and potential differences in time trends between sociodemographic groups. Analyses were based on annually repeated cross-sectional data including 56,159 multi-ethnic students (13–14 years old) in the second year of various levels of secondary education in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, using the internationally validated Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire. In general, emotional and behavioural problems increased over a 10-year time period (i.e., relative increase of total difficulties by 19%). This increase was mainly due to an increase in hyperactivity/inattention problems, while peer-relationship problems decreased. Time trends differed somewhat by sex: total difficulties and emotional problems increased in girls but remained fairly stable in boys. In Amsterdam, emotional and behavioural problems in adolescents seemingly increased over time, especially hyperactivity/inattention problems. Further research is needed to clarify the underlying causes. We cannot totally exclude potential confounders underlying our findings. Our findings can inform policies to target health programs at sociodemographic groups at increased risk.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1621-1631
JournalEuropean Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 26 Apr 2018

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