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A prospective cohort study of depression course, functional disability, and NEET status in help-seeking young adults

Lookup NU author(s): Emeritus Professor Jan Scott


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To examine the associations between depression course, functional disability, and Not in Education or Training (NEET) status in a clinical sample of young adults with mental health problems.Young adults aged 15-25 years seeking help from four primary mental health services were invited to participate in a prospective cohort study evaluating the course of psychiatric disorders in youth. Demographic and clinical characteristics, including depressive symptomatology and functioning, were evaluated through clinical interview and self-report at baseline and 12 month follow-up.A total of 448 young adults participated (70 % female; M: 20.05 years, SD = 2.85). A significant interaction effect for time and depression course was found, such that those who became depressed reported an increase in functional disability and those whose depression remitted reported a significant reduction in functional disability. Developing depression was not a significant predictor of becoming NEET and vice versa: remitted depression did not make a person more likely to reengage in employment or education.This is the first study to examine the course of depression, functional disability, and NEET rates among help-seeking young adults. This study confirms the importance of symptom reduction for improved functioning; however, functional disability remained greater than that seen in young people in the community and there was no association between a change in depression and a change in NEET status. These results argue that services need to address functional outcomes and reengagement with education and employment in addition to symptom reduction.

Publication metadata

Author(s): O'Dea B, Lee RSC, McGorry PD, Hickie IB, Scott J, Hermens DF, Mykeltun A, Purcell R, Killackey E, Pantelis C, Amminger GP, Glozier N

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology

Year: 2016

Volume: 51

Issue: 10

Pages: 1395-1404

Print publication date: 01/10/2016

Online publication date: 06/08/2016

Acceptance date: 01/08/2016

ISSN (print): 0933-7954

ISSN (electronic): 1433-9285

Publisher: Springer


DOI: 10.1007/s00127-016-1272-x


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Funder referenceFunder name
NHMRC Career Development Fund
NHMRC Optymise Centre of Research Excellence Postdoctoral Research Fellowship
1105825NHMRC Senior Principal Research Fellowship
566529National Medical Health and Research Council (NHMRC) program
628386NHMRC Senior Principal Research Fellowship