Depression and anxiety outcomes of offending trajectories: A systematic review of prospective longitudinal studies

Kim Reising, Maria M. Ttofi, David P. Farrington, Alex R. Piquero

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12 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Earlier research has studied different typologies of offending (e.g., adolescence-limited, late-onset, life-course-persistent), but little is known about the mental health problems of different offender groups. Objectives: This paper presents a comprehensive review of the literature on the link between developmental trajectories of offending and adult mental health outcomes (i.e., anxiety and/or depression). Methods: A meta-analysis was carried out to synthesize information on different offender types and associated adult mental health problems. Analyses were based on data from prospective longitudinal studies. Results: A total of 158 reports relating to 53 longitudinal studies were screened. Twenty-one reports were included in the systematic review and nine reports were included in the meta-analysis. Compared to non-offenders, the odds for mental health problems were nearly three-times higher for life-course-persistent offenders (OR = 2.72; CI: 2.18 to 3.40) and almost twice as high for late-onset offenders (OR = 1.70; CI: 1.37 to 2.12). Adolescence-limited offenders suffered the least mental health problems (OR = 1.41; CI: 1.16 to 1.71). Conclusions: Different offender groups face varying probabilities of mental health problems. Implications for policy and practice are discussed. More research needs to empirically investigate how and when poor mental health is related to chronic and persistent offending.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-15
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Criminal Justice
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Longitudinal studies
  • Mental health outcomes
  • Meta-analysis
  • Offending trajectories

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