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Peer victimisation during adolescence and its impact on wellbeing in adulthood: A prospective cohort study

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Adolescent Health
DateSubmitted - 2020


PurposeThe relationship between peer victimisation and psychiatric problems is well established; less is known about outcomes beyond mental illness. Understanding whether victimisation impacts wellbeing could have important implications for the treatment of victims of bullying. 
MethodsLongitudinal data were taken from 2,268 participants from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children, a prospective cohort study based in the UK. A series of regressions examined associations between peer victimisation in early adolescence, depression age 18, and wellbeing in early adulthood. This allowed an exploration into whether resilient individuals who avoided depression after victimisation, also maintain good wellbeing. 
ResultsJust over 15% of individuals frequently victimised as an adolescent had a diagnosis of depression at age 18. A one-point increase in frequent victimisation (25-point scale) was also associated with a 2.77-point (SE=0.46, p<0.001) decrease in wellbeing (70-point scale). This finding was only partly attenuated when adjusting for depression, suggesting that the burden of victimisation extends beyond depression to impact adult wellbeing. 
ConclusionsPeer victimisation during adolescence is a significant risk factor for depression and poor wellbeing in early adulthood. Victimised individuals who remained resilient and avoided a diagnosis of depression had lower wellbeing than individuals who were not victimised. In addition to the need for interventions that reduce the likelihood of depression following victimisation, efforts should also be made to promote good wellbeing. Reconsideration of the definition of resilience is also necessary to encompass both avoidance of mental illness and maintenance of good mental health in those experiencing adversities.

    Structured keywords

  • Physical and Mental Health
  • Mental Health Data Science


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