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Aust N Z J Psychiatry. 1995 Sep;29(3):454-62.

A community study of preschool behaviour disorder in New Zealand.

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  • 1Royal Children's Hospital Mental Health Service, Parkville, Victoria.


A two stage epidemiological study of 320 children aged between 2.5 and 5 years of age, from eight randomly selected preschool centres, was performed in order (1) to test the psychometrics of the Behaviour Check List (BCL), a parent report instrument for preschool children, (2) to estimate the prevalence, and (3) to describe the correlates of preschool behaviour disorder. After the initial screening using the BCL, the Hyperactivity Scale (HAS) and the Internalising Disorder Scale (IDS), parents were interviewed using the Behaviour Screening Questionnaire (BSQ); the children were examined using the Rutter and Graham's interview. Data was also collected on family functioning, maternal mental health, social adversity, development, physical health and perinatal history. The BCL was found to be a reliable and valid screening measure. A cut off point of 8+ was established for New Zealand preschoolers; this is lower than that in the UK sample, illustrating the importance of retesting the instruments in a different culture. The prevalence rate of behaviour problems based on clinical diagnosis was 22.5%. Results of logistic regression analysis showed that poor family functioning, poor maternal mental health and parental separation were associated significantly with behaviour disorder. This study emphasises the need to identify preschool behaviour disorder and associated risk factors to enable an early intervention.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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