Mental health subgroups among vulnerable emerging adults, and their functioning

Tae Lee, Trudy Festinger, James Jaccard, Michelle R. Munson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: The present study aimed to (a) identify what mental health profiles exist among emerging adults with a history of childhood contact with Child Protective Services (CPS), and (b) examine whether the level of young-adult functioning varies across the profiles. Method: Latent profile analysis was conducted with a nationally representative sample of youths (mean age = 18.99, N = 1,179) who were tracked for an extended time following CPS investigation. Results: A five-profile solution—minimal symptoms, midlevel symptoms, multimorbid, trauma symptoms, and substance problems—provides the best fit for the data. Young-adult functioning levels vary across the profiles with the members of the minimal-symptoms profile functioning better in many domains compared with members of other profiles. Members of the minimal symptoms, the midlevel symptoms, and the multimorbid profiles scored the lowest, the midlevel, and the highest, respectively, across all mental health symptoms. These three profiles were estimated to comprise close to 90% of the study population. Conclusions: The mental health profiles among the study population correspond to symptom severity rather than to specific diagnostic categories. Policy and practice implications are provided.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)161-188
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of the Society for Social Work and Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2017


  • Child maltreatment
  • Emerging adults
  • Latent profile analysis
  • Mental health profiles
  • Young-adult functioning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science


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