Full spectrum of mental disorders linked with childhood residential mobility

Pearl L H Mok, Roger T Webb, Louis Appleby, Carsten Bøcker Pedersen

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    Although links between childhood residential mobility and subsequently increased risks of psychopathology have been well documented, associations across the full spectrum of psychiatric disorders are unknown. We conducted a population-based study of all 1,439,363 persons born in Denmark during 1971-1997 to investigate relationships between childhood cross-municipality residential moves from year of birth to age 14 years and the development of a range of psychiatric disorders from mid-adolescence to early middle age. We examined: (1) Any substance misuse disorders; specifically alcohol misuse, and cannabis misuse; (2) Any personality disorders; specifically antisocial, and borderline personality disorders; (3) Schizophrenia and related disorders; specifically schizophrenia, and schizoaffective disorder; (4) Any mood disorders; specifically bipolar disorder, and depressive disorder; (5) Any anxiety and somatoform disorders; specifically obsessive compulsive disorder; (6) Any eating disorders; specifically anorexia nervosa. Childhood residential mobility was associated with elevated risks of developing most psychiatric disorders, even after controlling for potential confounders. The associations generally rose with increasing age at moving and were stronger for multiple moves in a year compared to a single move. Links were particularly strong for antisocial personality disorder, any substance misuse disorder, and cannabis misuse in particular, for which the highest increases in risks were observed if relocation occurred during adolescence. Childhood residential change was not linked to subsequent risk of developing an eating disorder. Frequent residential mobility could be a marker for familial adversities. Mental health services and schools need to be vigilant of the psychosocial needs of children, particularly adolescents, who have recently moved homes.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)57-64
    Number of pages8
    JournalJournal of Psychiatric Research
    Publication statusPublished - 26 Mar 2016


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