Effects of Timing of Adversity on Adolescent and Young Adult Adjustment


  • The project described was supported by grants #R01DA09679-13 and #R01DA021426-10 from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, #21548; #F31MH086171 from the National Institute of Mental Health; and by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of these funding agencies.

Requests for reprints should be sent to Rick Kosterman, Social Development Research Group, University of Washington, 9725 3rd Ave NE, Suite 401, Seattle, WA 98115. E-mail: rickk@u.washington.edu


Exposure to adversity during childhood and adolescence predicts adjustment across development. Furthermore, adolescent adjustment problems persist into young adulthood. This study examined relations of contextual adversity with concurrent adolescent adjustment and prospective mental health and health outcomes in young adulthood. A longitudinal sample (= 808) was followed from age 10 through 27. Perceptions of neighborhood in childhood predicted depression, alcohol use disorders, and HIV risk in young adulthood. Further, the timing of adversity was important in determining the type of problem experienced in adulthood. Youth adjustment predicted adult outcomes, and in some cases mediated the relation between adversity and outcomes. These findings support the importance of adversity in predicting adjustment and elucidate factors that affect outcomes into young adulthood.