The Influence of Social Disadvantage on Children's Emotional and Behavioral Difficulties at Age 4-7 Years

Emily Steele, Evelyn Wong, Amalia Karahalios, Shae Johnson, Karen Weston, Peter Kremer, Andrea De Silva, Elise Davis, Terry Nolan, Elizabeth Waters

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6 Citations (Scopus)


Objective To examine associations between indicators of social disadvantage and emotional and behavioral difficulties in children aged 4-7 years. Study design This cross-sectional study was based on data collected in a questionnaire completed by parents of children enrolled in their first year of school in Victoria, Australia, in 2010. Just over 57 000 children participated (86% of children enrolled), of whom complete data were available for 38 955 (68% of the dataset); these children formed the analysis sample. The outcome measure was emotional and behavioral difficulties, assessed by the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire Total Difficulties score. Logistic regression analyses were undertaken. Results Having a concession card (a government-issued card enabling access to subsidized goods and services, particularly in relation to medical care, primarily for economically vulnerable households) was the strongest predictor of emotional and behavioral difficulties (OR, 2.71; 95% CI, 2.39-3.07), followed by living with 1 parent and the parent's partner or not living with either parent (OR, 1.93; 95% CI, 1.58-2.37) and having a mother who did not complete high school (OR, 1.27; 95% CI, 1.11-1.45). Conclusion These findings may assist schools and early childhood practitioners in identifying young children who are at increased risk of emotional and behavioral difficulties, to provide these children, together with their parents and families, with support from appropriate preventive interventions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)442-448
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Pediatrics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2015
Externally publishedYes

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