An investigation of the causal pathways from childhood conduct problems to poor health outcomes and criminal behaviour in adulthood


  • Dr Gemma Hammerton

    University of Bristol

Project summary

Conduct problems (CPs), including behaviours such as stealing and fighting, are common in childhood and there is increasing evidence that they can affect multiple adverse outcomes in adulthood including antisocial behaviour, psychiatric disorders and poor physical health. However, there is little evidence regarding possible explanations for these strong associations.

I will test three competing explanations for the associations observed between childhood CPs and adverse outcomes in adulthood using population-based datasets from the UK and Brazil – a  middle-income country with high levels of CPs and violent crime.
Hypothesised explanations include ongoing adversity throughout life, such as financial hardship, shared early risks, such as impaired emotion recognition, and ‘snares’ in young adulthood, such as substance misuse. The different explanations would have different clinical implications. 

The findings will be used to inform intervention strategies to reduce the risk of negative consequences arising from childhood CPs.