University of Oulu

Timonen, J., Niemelä, M., Hakko, H. et al. Associations between Adolescents’ Social Leisure Activities and the Onset of Mental Disorders in Young Adulthood. J Youth Adolescence 50, 1757–1765 (2021).

Associations between adolescents’ social leisure activities and the onset of mental disorders in young adulthood

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Author: Timonen, Johanna1; Niemelä, Mika2,3; Hakko, Helinä2;
Organizations: 1Faculty of Medicine, Research Unit of Clinical Neuroscience, Psychiatry, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
2Department of Psychiatry, Oulu University Hospital, Oulu, OYS, Finland
3Faculty of Medicine, Center for Life Course Health Research, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.5 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Springer Nature, 2021
Publish Date: 2021-10-21


The association of leisure time activities with specific mental disorders has mainly remained unclear because of lack of such research. This study analyzed the association of different levels of social leisure time activity during adolescence (ages 15–16 years) with the incidence of mental disorders during adolescence and young adulthood between the ages of 16–33 years. The study population consisted of 6838 (females 51.5%) participants from the longitudinal follow-up study, the Northern Finland Birth Cohort 1986, covering 72% of the total 1986 birth cohort. Psychiatric morbidity of the participants was followed through nationwide health registers until the end of the year 2018 when the participants were 33 years old. High social leisure time activity in adolescence associated with lower incidence of psychiatric disorders in general, and specifically, with affective, anxiety, and substance use disorders. Low social leisure time activity was related to increased incidence of any psychiatric disorder in general, and particularly to anxiety and behavioral disorders. In terms of prevention of mental disorders, these study findings encourage families, schools and other communities to continue to enhance and develop community-based social leisure time activities for children and adolescents.

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Series: Journal of youth and adolescence
ISSN: 0047-2891
ISSN-E: 1573-6601
ISSN-L: 0047-2891
Volume: 50
Issue: 9
Pages: 1757 - 1765
DOI: 10.1007/s10964-021-01462-8
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 3141 Health care science
Funding: This study was supported by the grant of ITLA Children’s Foundation (Researchers JT and MN). Open access funding provided by University of Oulu including Oulu University Hospital.
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