Send to

Choose Destination
Acta Paediatr. 2018 Aug;107(8):1327-1334. doi: 10.1111/apa.14199. Epub 2018 Jan 18.

Systematic review and meta-analysis found higher levels of behavioural problems in male left-behind children aged 6-11 years.

Author information

Department of Epidemiology and Health Statistics, School of Public Health, Anhui Medical University, Hefei, Anhui, China.
Center for Evidence-Based Practice, Anhui Medical University, Hefei, Anhui, China.



Left-behind children (LBC) now account for more than 1 in 5 Chinese children, and they often suffer from behavioural problems when their parents leave their rural homes to seek work in urban areas. The primary aim of this meta-analysis was to compare the incidence rates and factor scores of behavioural problems in LBC, who now account for more than one-fifth of Chinese children, and non-LBC.


This systematic review and meta-analysis explored the children's characteristic behavioural problems using the Achenbach Child Behaviour Check List. A subgroup analysis was conducted to compare the different behavioural problems of LBC with different characteristics. The meta-analysis assessed 1405 papers and analysed 13 papers from 2007 to 2015, covering 10 264 LBC and 8909 non-LBC from 2 to 19 years of age.


The incidence rates of behavioural problems were higher in LBC than non-LBC. The highest risks were noted in boys aged between 6 and 11 years of age, who were more likely to be withdrawn and be affected by somatic complaints, schizophreniform disorder, compulsive behaviour and depression.


Interventions and policies are urgently needed to tackle behavioural issues among LBC, especially high-risk males aged 6-11 years.


Achenbach Child Behaviour Check List; Behaviour problems; Children; Meta-analysis


Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Wiley
Loading ...
Support Center