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The prevalence of transitional object use in adolescence: is there a connection between the existence of a transitional object and depressive symptoms?

[journal article]

Erkolahti, Ritva; Nyström, Marjaana

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Please use the following Persistent Identifier (PID) to cite this document:http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:0168-ssoar-123800

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Abstract Objective: The purpose of the study was to investigate the prevalence of the use of a transitional object (TO) in adolescence and its connection with depressive symptoms and mental distress in youth by gender. Method: The study group consisted of 1,054 adolescents (465 boys, 589 girls) from normal comprehensive schools in Turku, a Finnish town with approximately 175,000 inhabitants. The mean age of both gender groups was 14.5 years (SD 0.5); respondents came from all social classes. Background and TO information was collected with questionnaires. Depressive symptoms and mental distress were explored by the children’s depression inventory (CDI) and its subscales: low self-confidence, anhedonia and sadness. Results: Of all respondents, 29% (n = 285) had a TO: 37% of girls and 18% of boys. The difference between genders was statistically significant. There was also a statistically significant gender difference in the character of the TO reported: 72 % of girls with a TO had a soft toy, whereas 49% of boys with a TO used hard objects, such as pens, hard toys or books. TO-users showed more depressive symptoms than non-users, but the difference was not statistically significant (P = 0.053). Significant differences were found in the CDI subscales: TO-users had more sadness than non-users and girls using a TO showed more sadness than non-using girls. TO-using boys did not differ from non-using boys with regard to sadness or the other CDI-subscales. Conclusions: The use of a TO seems to be common in adolescence. Adolescents with more depressive symptoms more often used a TO. The sadness of girls using TOs requires attention.
Keywords depression
Classification Psychological Testing, Psychological Counseling, Psychological Methodology; Psychological Disorders, Mental Health Treatment and Prevention
Free Keywords adolescence; attachment; gender differences; transitional object
Document language English
Publication Year 2009
Page/Pages p. 400-406
Journal European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 18 (2009) 7
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00787-009-0747-7
Status Published Version; peer reviewed
Licence PEER Licence Agreement (applicable only to documents from PEER project)