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Infant Behav Dev. 2013 Feb;36(1):162-70. doi: 10.1016/j.infbeh.2012.11.007. Epub 2013 Jan 22.

A nationwide study of social-emotional problems in young children in Turkey.

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Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Medical Faculty, University of Ondokuz Mayis, Samsun, Turkey.


We aimed to assess the prevalence of social-emotional problems of Turkish children in early childhood and to understand their association with various bio-psycho-social risk factors, in order to establish guidelines in planning training programs for parents and professionals. Data from a representative sample of 1507 boys (54.3%) and 1268 girls (45.7%) aged 10-48 months were collected. The primary caregivers (mothers=91.4%) completed the Brief Infant-Toddler Social and Emotional Assessment (BITSEA), the Brief Symptom Inventory (BSI) and a form designed to gather information about various bio-psycho-social risk factors. Based on the caregiver terms, a total of 1626 children (60.1%) were reported to experience social-emotional problems. However, based on the BITSEA-problem clinical (1.5 SD) cut-off scores, 9.3% (9.1% of boys; 9.5% of girls) of all children were found to experience social-emotional problems. The variables, that showed a significant association with BITSEA-problem scores in pairwise comparisons, were entered in logistic regression analysis to determine the variables that predict the group with scores of above clinical cut-point. Higher total score of BSI of the primary caregiver, being separated from the mother for more than a month, and lower income of the family were found to be significant predictors of social-emotional problems. Caregiver reports highlight that maternal variables of mothers' psychological well-being, education and access to sources of support are closely related to the social-emotional wellbeing of their off-spring. The findings obtained from this study may be used for detection of prioritized domains in terms of management of preventive mental health services.

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