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Parent-child agreement on refugee children's psychiatric symptoms: a transcultural perspective.

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Department of Psychiatry, Montreal Children's Hospital, Quebec, Canada.



To compare the types and rates of psychiatric symptoms of young Central American and Cambodian refugees, as reported by both parents and children, and to examine parent-child agreement in reporting symptoms.


Interviews were conducted with 123 children aged 8 to 12 years and 158 adolescents aged 12 to 16 years and their parents. Parents assessed psychiatric symptoms via the Child Behavior Checklist, the 8- to 12-year-olds responded to the Dominic, and the adolescents answered the Youth Self-Report. Means of Internalizing and Externalizing scores were compared on the basis of ethnic origin, parent's sex, and child's sex, as were the Spearman correlation coefficients of parents' and children's ratings.


The Cambodian parents reported few symptoms in their children, and the Central Americans reported almost as many symptoms as did parents in U.S. clinical samples. The Cambodian children reported less symptoms than the Central Americans, but the interethnic difference was not significant in the adolescents' self-reports. Parent-child agreement varied considerably by sex and ethnic origin of the informant.


The results underscore the need to involve multiple informants in assessing psychiatric symptoms of refugee children in spite of the difficulties inherent in field research with this population. They also show that data on multiple informants gathered from Western samples are not universally valid.

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