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Pediatrics. 1995 Jun;95(6):829-36.

The role of parents in the detection of developmental and behavioral problems.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN 37232, USA.



The success of early identification of children with developmental and behavioral problems is influenced by the manner in which pediatricians elicit, recognize, and select clinical information and derive appropriate impressions. Parents are ready sources of clinical information, and they can be asked to provide two broad types of data: appraisals, including concerns, estimations, and predictions; and descriptions, including recall and report. The purpose of this article is to help pediatricians make optimal use of clinical information from parents to increase the accuracy of clinical judgment in detecting children with developmental and behavioral problems.


Review of 78 research articles and tests relying on parent information from pediatric, psychological, and education literature.


There are several formats for eliciting parental information that are superior in terms of accuracy and ease of evocation. Specifically, parents' concerns and good-quality standardized parent report measures such as the Child Development Inventories capitalize best on parents' observations and insights into their children. In combination, these two types of parental information offer an effective method for the early detection of behavioral and developmental problems in primary-care settings.

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