Early risk indicators of internalizing problems in late childhood: A 9-year longitudinal study

J. Ashford, H.F.E. Smit, P.A.C. van Lier, P. Cuijpers, H.M. Koot

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Background: Longitudinal studies on risk indicators of internalizing problems in childhood are in short
supply, but could be valuable to identify target groups for prevention. Methods: Standardized
assessments of 294 children’s internalizing problems at the age of 2–3 years (parent report), 4–5 years
(parent and teacher report) and 11 years (parent and teacher) were available in addition to risk
indicators from the child, family and contextual domain. Results: Low socioeconomic status, family
psychopathology at child age 2–3, parenting stress at child age 4–5 years, and parents’ reports of child
internalizing problems at age 4–5 years were the strongest predictors of internalizing problems at the
age of 11. If these early risk factors were effectively ameliorated through preventive interventions, up to
57% of internalizing cases at age 11 years could be avoided. Conclusions: Predictors from as early as
2–5 years of age are relevant for identifying children at risk of internalizing problems in late childhood.
The methodological approach used in this study can help to identify children who are most in need of
preventive interventions and help to assess the potential health gain and efficiency of such interventions.
Keywords: Internalizing disorder, risk factors, prevention. Abbreviations: AF: attributable
fraction; IRR: incidence rate ratio; LEQ: Life Events Questionnaire; NNT: numbers needed to be treated;
RD: risk difference.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)774-780
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2008

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