Research results

Phrases appearing most frequently in research results.

For the most part, our research results to date show that most participants have coped well with the developmental processes and challenges of different life stages. However, there appear to be risk factors associated with adolescent growth, development, and home environment, which may threaten adolescent well-being and have a lasting impact on life. 

For example, the associations between socioeconomic position, sex, health, and well-being were apparent throughout the results. Among others, mortality, psychiatric symptoms, and lifestyle were found to be associated with socioeconomic factors such as educational attainment and occupational class. There are also observable differences between sexes in relation to mental health, lifestyle, and mortality, as well as their respective risk and protective factors. 

Explore further results: 

  • Several mental health risk and protective factors identifiable early on in the life course
  • The persistent significance of family on health and well-being 
  • Numerous predisposing factors exist for harmful health behavior
  • More results can be found in publications


Several mental health risk and protective factors are identifiable early on in the life course

Many of the factors determining mental health in adulthood are associated with the conditions and course of adolescence. 

According to our results, mental health in adolescence and early adulthood predicted mental health experienced in later adulthood, regardless of sex. In other words, mental health challenges in adolescence often persist into adulthood. Many challenges occurring in adolescence and early adulthood (such as dissatisfactory academic achievement, parental divorce, run-ins with the law, and lack of romantic relationships), forebode challenges faced later on in the life course, such as episodic and prolonged depression. 

The results also show that numerous individual and environmental factors protected participants from factors that can be seen as threats to mental health. Self-esteem, which can be considered an aspect of good mental health, protected against later depression. Self-esteem, however, at 16 years of age was already better among men than among women; this difference persisted until middle age. On the other hand, the growth rate of self-esteem was faster in women. Young people who experienced more conflict in their interpersonal relationships exhibited lower esteem, both currently and later on in adulthood.

The persistent significance of family on health and well-being 

The challenges in family interaction experienced in childhood and are part of a complex network of risk factors that linger well into adulthood. Unfavorable family relationships experienced at a young age were associated with, for example, more frequent heavy episodic drinking at the ages of 20 and 30.

Marriage is associated with better mental well-being at different life stages, especially for men. Singleness and divorce increased the risk of depressive symptoms and lower self-esteem, according to our studies. For women, no differences between different forms of non-single civil status (i.e. civil partnership, cohabiting, marriage) were found in regards to mental well-being.

Becoming a parent was associated with the increasing trajectories of better mental wellbeing shifting into stable or even decreasing trajectories after the transition. With time, those who became parents experienced greater sense of significance in their lives, and especially middle aged fathers had higher self-esteem than those of the same age group who did not have children.

Numerous predisposing factors exist for harmful health behavior

Many psychosocial factors were linked to unhealthy lifestyle habits and conversely, some lifestyle habits lead to adverse psychosocial outcomes. 

For example, in men, depressive symptoms predicted subsequent weight gain, which can indicate the presence of unhealthy lifestyle factors. In women, changes in mental health and weight occurred simultaneously. In addition, lower self-esteem in women was associated with higher body mass index increasingly with age.

Increased alcohol consumption in adulthood was associated with more frequent peer contact in adolescence and being male. Psychiatric symptoms were also associated with binge drinking later on in adulthood. More positively, excessive alcohol consumption in adolescence was not linked to persistent disadvantage if drinking decreased after this life stage.

The links between harmful health behavior and later life stages manifested as lower and slower developing self-esteem, unemployment, disadvantage, and psychiatric symptoms, among other things.

Research applications

This data forms a valuable longitudinal data set, and the research results that come of it can be utilized by healthcare professionals, social workers, and educators in mental healthcare and social work aimed at adolescents and young adults. 

The analysis and dissemination of this follow-up research is ongoing. Several scientific publications in prestigious domestic and foreign journals in the field have been based on TAM data. This study has been utilized in numerous theses and dissertations and has been widely presented in Finland and abroad.