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1.  Standardized Observational Assessment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Combined and Predominantly Inattentive Subtypes. II. Classroom Observations 
School psychology review  2009;38(3):362-381.
Trained classroom observers used the Direct Observation Form (DOF; McConaughy & Achenbach, 2009) to rate observations of 163 6- to 11-year-old children in their school classrooms. Participants were assigned to four groups based on a parent diagnostic interview and parent and teacher rating scales: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)—Combined type (n = 64); ADHD—Inattentive type (n = 22); clinically referred without ADHD (n = 51); and nonreferred control children (n = 26). The ADHD—Combined group scored significantly higher than the referred without ADHD group and controls on the DOF Intrusive and Oppositional syndromes, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Problems scale, Hyperactivity-Impulsivity subscale, and Total Problems; and significantly lower on the DOF On-Task score. The ADHD—Inattentive group scored significantly higher than controls on the DOF Sluggish Cognitive Tempo and Attention Problems syndromes, Inattention subscale, and Total Problems; and significantly lower on the DOF On-Task score. Implications are discussed regarding the discriminative validity of standardized classroom observations for identifying children with ADHD and differentiating between the two ADHD subtypes.
PMCID: PMC2929014  PMID: 20802813
2.  Problem Behavior and Urban, Low-Income Youth 
Youth problem behaviors remain a public health issue. Youth in low-income, urban areas are particularly at risk for engaging in aggressive, violent, and disruptive behaviors.
To evaluate the effects of a school-based social–emotional learning and health promotion program on problem behaviors and related attitudes among low-income, urban youth.
A matched-pair, cluster RCT.
Participants were drawn from 14 Chicago Public Schools over a 6-year period of program delivery with outcomes assessed for a cohort of youth followed from Grades 3 to 8. Data were collected from Fall 2004 to Spring 2010, and analyzed in Spring 2012.
The Positive Action program includes a scoped and sequenced K–12 classroom curriculum with six components: self-concept, social and emotional positive actions for managing oneself responsibly, and positive actions directed toward physical and mental health, honesty, getting along with others, and continually improving oneself. The program also includes teacher, counselor, family, and community training as well as activities directed toward schoolwide climate development.
Main outcome measures
Youth reported on their normative beliefs in support of aggression and on their bullying, disruptive and violent behaviors; parents rated youths’ bullying behaviors and conduct problems; schoolwide data on disciplinary referrals and suspensions were obtained from school records.
Multilevel growth-curve modeling analyses conducted on completion of the trial indicated that Positive Action mitigated increases over time in (1) youth reports of normative beliefs supporting aggressive behaviors and of engaging in disruptive behavior and bullying (girls only); and (2) parent reports of youth bullying behaviors (boys only). At study end-point, students in Positive Action schools also reported a lower rate of violence-related behavior than students in control schools. Schoolwide findings indicated positive program effects on both disciplinary referrals and suspensions. Program effect sizes ranged from −0.26 to −0.68.
These results extend evidence of the effectiveness of the Positive Action program to low-income, minority, urban school settings and to middle school–aged youth.
Trial registration
This study is registered at NCT01025674.
PMCID: PMC3723403  PMID: 23683980
3.  Road Trauma in Teenage Male Youth with Childhood Disruptive Behavior Disorders: A Population Based Analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2010;7(11):e1000369.
Donald Redelmeier and colleagues conducted a population-based case-control study of 16-19-year-old males hospitalized for road trauma or appendicitis and showed that disruptive behavior disorders explained a significant amount of road trauma in this group.
Teenage male drivers contribute to a large number of serious road crashes despite low rates of driving and excellent physical health. We examined the amount of road trauma involving teenage male youth that might be explained by prior disruptive behavior disorders (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, conduct disorder, oppositional defiant disorder).
Methods and Findings
We conducted a population-based case-control study of consecutive male youth between age 16 and 19 years hospitalized for road trauma (cases) or appendicitis (controls) in Ontario, Canada over 7 years (April 1, 2002 through March 31, 2009). Using universal health care databases, we identified prior psychiatric diagnoses for each individual during the decade before admission. Overall, a total of 3,421 patients were admitted for road trauma (cases) and 3,812 for appendicitis (controls). A history of disruptive behavior disorders was significantly more frequent among trauma patients than controls (767 of 3,421 versus 664 of 3,812), equal to a one-third increase in the relative risk of road trauma (odds ratio  =  1.37, 95% confidence interval 1.22–1.54, p<0.001). The risk was evident over a range of settings and after adjustment for measured confounders (odds ratio 1.38, 95% confidence interval 1.21–1.56, p<0.001). The risk explained about one-in-20 crashes, was apparent years before the event, extended to those who died, and persisted among those involved as pedestrians.
Disruptive behavior disorders explain a significant amount of road trauma in teenage male youth. Programs addressing such disorders should be considered to prevent injuries.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
In the latest World Health Organization (WHO) global burden of disease list, road traffic crashes are currently ranked eighth but are predicted to take fourth place by 2030 (by which time, road traffic deaths are likely to increase by more than 80% in developing countries and to decrease by nearly 30% in industrialized countries.) Every year, road traffic crashes kill an estimated 1.2 million people world-wide and injure or disable a further 20–60 million. Furthermore, the economic consequences of road traffic crashes account for about 2% of the gross national product of the entire global economy.
90% of road traffic deaths occur in developing countries where pedestrians, cyclists, and users of two-wheel vehicles (scooters, motorbikes) are the most vulnerable. In industrialized countries, teenage male drivers are the single most risky demographic group, with an incidence of road traffic crashes of twice that of the population average. Also, male teenagers are sometimes a hazard to other road users and contribute to more fatalities in older pedestrians than older drivers. Furthermore, teenage male drivers involved in serious crashes can have ongoing health care needs but are often resistant to standard road safety advice.
Why Was This Study Done?
Previous studies have suggested that disruptive behavior disorders might contribute to the risk of road traffic crashes in male teenagers but methodological problems with these studies make these results unclear. Given the importance of this topic, authorities have called for more research into the full range of behavioral disorders and relevant populations. This study attempted to avoid the methodological problems of previous studies and to rigorously assess whether disruptive behavior disorders predispose male teenagers to road traffic crashes.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers conducted a 7-year population-based case-control study in Ontario, Canada of consecutive male teenagers aged between 16 and 19 years who were admitted to a hospital due to a road traffic crash, including those who were pedestrians. For the controls, the researchers used consecutive males in the same age range who were admitted to the same hospitals during the same time interval for acute appendicitis (which is common and generally unrelated to traumatic injury). For each participant in the study, the authors used universal health care databases in Canada's single-payer health care system to identify relevant psychiatric diagnoses (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, conduct disorder, and oppositional defiant disorder) during the decade before admission.
During the study period, 3,421 male teenagers were admitted to hospital as the result of a road traffic crash and 3,812 male teenagers were admitted to hospital for appendicitis. A history of disruptive behavior disorders was significantly more frequent among male teenagers admitted for road traffic crashes than controls (767 of 3,421 versus 664 of 3,812) giving an odds ratio 1.37. This higher risk was still present after the researchers adjusted for possible confounding factors (such as age, social status, and home location) and accounted for about one-in-20 road traffic crashes, including male teenagers who had died and those involved as pedestrians.
What Do These Findings Mean?
The results of this study suggest that disruptive behavior disorders explain a significant amount of road traffic crashes experienced in male teenagers. Overall, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, conduct disorder, and oppositional defiant disorder are associated with about a one-third increase in the risk of a road traffic crash (which is similar to the relative risk among individuals treated for epilepsy.) As in previous studies in this area, some methodological problems may affect the interpretation of these findings. As this study did not document who was “at fault,” an alternative interpretation might be that behavioral disorders impair a teenager's ability to avoid a mishap initiated by someone else. Most importantly, the observed increase in risk as pedestrians indicates that male teenagers who abstain from driving do not escape the danger of road traffic crashes.
The researchers stress that any increased risk of road traffic crashes associated with disruptive behavior disorders in male teenagers does not justify withholding a driver's license, especially as many such disorders can be effectively treated or, indeed, because it does not address the issue of the increased risk for those teenagers who were pedestrians. Instead, they suggest that disruptive behavior disorders could be considered as contributors to road traffic crashes—analogous to seizure disorders and some other medical diseases. Therefore, greater attention by primary care physicians, psychiatrists, and community health workers might be helpful since interventions can perhaps reduce the risk including medical treatments and avoidance of distractions.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
The World Health Organization has information on road traffic crashes
The US National Institutes of Health has information about behavior disorders in children as well as UK-based Kids Development
The Ontarion Ministry of Transportation has information on annual roadway collisions in Ontario
PMCID: PMC2981585  PMID: 21125017
4.  Preventing conduct problems and improving school readiness: evaluation of the Incredible Years Teacher and Child Training Programs in high-risk schools 
School readiness, conceptualized as three components including emotional self-regulation, social competence, and family/school involvement, as well as absence of conduct problems play a key role in young children’s future interpersonal adjustment and academic success. Unfortunately, exposure to multiple poverty-related risks increases the odds that children will demonstrate increased emotional dysregulation, fewer social skills, less teacher/parent involvement and more conduct problems. Consequently intervention offered to socio-economically disadvantaged populations that includes a social and emotional school curriculum and trains teachers in effective classroom management skills and in promotion of parent—school involvement would seem to be a strategic strategy for improving young children’s school readiness, leading to later academic success and prevention of the development of conduct disorders.
This randomized trial evaluated the Incredible Years (IY) Teacher Classroom Management and Child Social and Emotion curriculum (Dinosaur School) as a universal prevention program for children enrolled in Head Start, kindergarten, or first grade classrooms in schools selected because of high rates of poverty. Trained teachers offered the Dinosaur School curriculum to all their students in bi-weekly lessons throughout the year. They sent home weekly dinosaur homewrok to encourage parents’ involvement. Part of the curriculum involved promotion of lesson objectives through the teachers’ continual use of positive classroom management skills focused on building social competence and emotional self-regulation skills as well as decreasing conduct problems. Matched pairs of schools were randomly assigned to intervention or control conditions.
Results from multi-level models on a total of 153 teachers and 1,768 students are presented. Children and teachers were observed in the classrooms by blinded observers at the begining and the end of the school year. Results indicated that intervention teachers used more positive classroom management strategies and their students showed more social competence and emotional self-regulation and fewer conduct problems than control teachers and students. Intervention teachers reported more involvement with parents than control teachers. Satisfaction with the program was very high regardless of grade levels.
These findings provide support for the efficacy of this universal preventive curriculum for enhancing school protective factors and reducing child and classroom risk factors faced by socio-economically disadvantaged children.
PMCID: PMC2735210  PMID: 18221346
Aggression; behavior problem; prevention; school; teacher; school readiness
5.  Atomoxetine Improved Attention in Children and Adolescents with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder and Dyslexia in a 16 Week, Acute, Randomized, Double-Blind Trial 
The purpose of this study was to evaluate atomoxetine treatment effects in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD-only), attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder with comorbid dyslexia (ADHD+D), or dyslexia only on ADHD core symptoms and on sluggish cognitive tempo (SCT), working memory, life performance, and self-concept.
Children and adolescents (10–16 years of age) with ADHD+D (n=124), dyslexia-only (n=58), or ADHD-only (n=27) received atomoxetine (1.0–1.4 mg/kg/day) or placebo (ADHD-only subjects received atomoxetine) in a 16 week, acute, randomized, double-blind trial with a 16 week, open-label extension phase (atomoxetine treatment only). Changes from baseline were assessed to weeks 16 and 32 in ADHD Rating Scale-IV-Parent-Version:Investigator-Administered and Scored (ADHDRS-IV-Parent:Inv); ADHD Rating Scale-IV-Teacher-Version (ADHDRS-IV-Teacher-Version); Life Participation Scale—Child- or Parent-Rated Version (LPS); Kiddie-Sluggish Cognitive Tempo (K-SCT) Interview; Multidimensional Self Concept Scale (MSCS); and Working Memory Test Battery for Children (WMTB-C).
At week 16, atomoxetine treatment resulted in significant (p<0.05) improvement from baseline in subjects with ADHD+D versus placebo on ADHDRS-IV-Parent:Inv Total (primary outcome) and subscales, ADHDRS-IV-Teacher-Version Inattentive subscale, K-SCT Interview Parent and Teacher subscales, and WMTB-C Central Executive component scores; in subjects with Dyslexia-only, atomoxetine versus placebo significantly improved K-SCT Youth subscale scores from baseline. At Week 32, atomoxetine-treated ADHD+D subjects significantly improved from baseline on all measures except MSCS Family subscale and WMTB-C Central Executive and Visuo-spatial Sketchpad component scores. The atomoxetine-treated dyslexia-only subjects significantly improved from baseline to week 32 on ADHDRS-IV-Parent:Inv Inattentive subscale, K-SCT Parent and Teacher subscales, and WMTB-C Phonological Loop and Central Executive component scores. The atomoxetine-treated ADHD-only subjects significantly improved from baseline to Week 32 on ADHDRS-Parent:Inv Total and subscales, ADHDRS-IV-Teacher-Version Hyperactive/Impulsive subscale, LPS Self-Control and Total, all K-SCT subscales, and MSCS Academic and Competence subscale scores.
Atomoxetine treatment improved ADHD symptoms in subjects with ADHD+D and ADHD-only, but not in subjects with dyslexia-only without ADHD. This is the first study to report significant effects of any medication on SCT.
Clinical Trials Registration
This study was registered at:, NCT00607919.
PMCID: PMC3842866  PMID: 24206099
6.  Dimensions and Correlates of Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder and Sluggish Cognitive Tempo 
Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology  2010;38(8):1097-1107.
The present study examined Sluggish Cognitive Tempo (SCT) in relation to ADHD symptoms, clinical diagnosis, and multiple aspects of adjustment in a clinical sample. Parent and teacher reports were gathered for 322 children and adolescents evaluated for behavioral, emotional, and/or learning problems at a university clinic. Confirmatory factor analyses (CFA) supported the presence of three separate, but correlated factors (SCT, inattention, and hyperactivity/impulsivity) in both parent and teacher ratings. As expected, SCT symptoms were greatest in youth with ADHD Inattentive type, but were also found in non-ADHD clinical groups. SCT symptoms were related to inattention, internalizing, and social problems across both parent and teacher informants; for parent reports, SCT was also related to more externalizing problems. Findings support the statistical validity of the SCT construct, but its clinical utility is still unclear.
PMCID: PMC3278310  PMID: 20644992
Sluggish cognitive tempo; Factor analysis; Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder; Clinical population
7.  A Transdiagnostic Community-Based Mental Health Treatment for Comorbid Disorders: Development and Outcomes of a Randomized Controlled Trial among Burmese Refugees in Thailand 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(11):e1001757.
In a randomized controlled trial, Paul Bolton and colleagues investigate whether a transdiagnostic community-based intervention is effective for improving mental health symptoms among Burmese refugees in Thailand.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Existing studies of mental health interventions in low-resource settings have employed highly structured interventions delivered by non-professionals that typically do not vary by client. Given high comorbidity among mental health problems and implementation challenges with scaling up multiple structured evidence-based treatments (EBTs), a transdiagnostic treatment could provide an additional option for approaching community-based treatment of mental health problems. Our objective was to test such an approach specifically designed for flexible treatments of varying and comorbid disorders among trauma survivors in a low-resource setting.
Methods and Findings
We conducted a single-blinded, wait-list randomized controlled trial of a newly developed transdiagnostic psychotherapy, Common Elements Treatment Approach (CETA), for low-resource settings, compared with wait-list control (WLC). CETA was delivered by lay workers to Burmese survivors of imprisonment, torture, and related traumas, with flexibility based on client presentation. Eligible participants reported trauma exposure and met severity criteria for depression and/or posttraumatic stress (PTS). Participants were randomly assigned to CETA (n = 182) or WLC (n = 165). Outcomes were assessed by interviewers blinded to participant allocation using locally adapted standard measures of depression and PTS (primary outcomes) and functional impairment, anxiety symptoms, aggression, and alcohol use (secondary outcomes). Primary analysis was intent-to-treat (n = 347), including 73 participants lost to follow-up. CETA participants experienced significantly greater reductions of baseline symptoms across all outcomes with the exception of alcohol use (alcohol use analysis was confined to problem drinkers). The difference in mean change from pre-intervention to post-intervention between intervention and control groups was −0.49 (95% CI: −0.59, −0.40) for depression, −0.43 (95% CI: −0.51, −0.35) for PTS, −0.42 (95% CI: −0.58, −0.27) for functional impairment, −0.48 (95% CI: −0.61, −0.34) for anxiety, −0.24 (95% CI: −0.34, −0.15) for aggression, and −0.03 (95% CI: −0.44, 0.50) for alcohol use. This corresponds to a 77% reduction in mean baseline depression score among CETA participants compared to a 40% reduction among controls, with respective values for the other outcomes of 76% and 41% for anxiety, 75% and 37% for PTS, 67% and 22% for functional impairment, and 71% and 32% for aggression. Effect sizes (Cohen's d) were large for depression (d = 1.16) and PTS (d = 1.19); moderate for impaired function (d = 0.63), anxiety (d = 0.79), and aggression (d = 0.58); and none for alcohol use. There were no adverse events. Limitations of the study include the lack of long-term follow-up, non-blinding of service providers and participants, and no placebo or active comparison intervention.
CETA provided by lay counselors was highly effective across disorders among trauma survivors compared to WLCs. These results support the further development and testing of transdiagnostic approaches as possible treatment options alongside existing EBTs.
Trial registration NCT01459068
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Worldwide, one in four people will experience a mental health disorder at some time during their life. Although many evidence-based treatments (EBTs), most involving some sort of cognitive behavioral therapy (talking therapies that help people manage their mental health problems by changing the way they think and behave), are now available, many people with mental health disorders never receive any treatment for their condition. The situation is particularly bad for people living in low-resource settings, where a delivery model for EBTs based on referral to mental health professionals is problematic given that mental health professionals are scarce. To facilitate widespread access to mental health care among poor and/or rural populations in low-resource settings, EBTs need to be deliverable at the primary or community level by non-professionals. Moreover, because there is a large burden of trauma-related mental health disorders in low-resource settings and because trauma increases the risk of multiple mental health problems, treatment options that address comorbid (coexisting) mental health problems in low-resource settings are badly needed.
Why Was This Study Done?
One possible solution to the problem of delivering EBTs for comorbid mental health disorders in low-resource settings is “transdiagnostic” treatment. Many mental health EBTs for different disorders share common components. Transdiagnostic treatments recognize these facts and apply these common components to a range of disorders rather than creating a different structured treatment for each diagnosis. The Common Elements Treatment Approach (CETA), for example, trains counselors in a range of components that are similar across EBTs and teaches counselors how to choose components, their order, and dose, based on their client's problems. This flexible approach, which was designed for delivery by non-professional providers in low-resource settings, provides counselors with the skills needed to treat depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress—three trauma-related mental health disorders. In this randomized controlled trial, the researchers investigate the use of CETA among Burmese refugees living in Thailand, many of whom are survivors of decades-long harsh military rule in Myanmar. A randomized controlled trial compares the outcomes of individuals chosen to receive different interventions through the play of chance.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers assigned Burmese survivors or witnesses of imprisonment, torture, and related traumas who met symptom criteria for significant depression and/or posttraumatic stress to either the CETA or wait-list control arm of their trial. Lay counselors treated the participants in the CETA arm by delivering CETA components—for example, “psychoeducation” (which teaches clients that their symptoms are normal and experienced by many people) and “cognitive coping” (which helps clients understand that how they think about an event can impact their feelings and behavior)—chosen to reflect the client's priority problems at presentation. Participants in the control arm received regular calls from the trial coordinator to check on their safety but no other intervention. Participants in the CETA arm experienced greater reductions of baseline symptoms of depression, posttraumatic stress, anxiety, and aggression than participants in the control arm. For example, there was a 77% reduction in the average depression score from before the intervention to after the intervention among participants in the CETA arm, but only a 40% reduction in the depression score among participants in the control arm. Importantly, the effect size of CETA (a statistical measure that quantifies the importance of the difference between two groups) was large for depression and posttraumatic stress, the primary outcomes of the trial. That is, compared to no treatment, CETA had a large effect on the symptoms of depression and posttraumatic stress experienced by the trial participants.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that, among Burmese survivors and witnesses of torture and other trauma living in Thailand, CETA delivered by lay counselors was a highly effective treatment for comorbid mental disorders compared to no treatment (the wait-list control). These findings may not be generalizable to other low-resource settings, they provide no information about long-term outcomes, and they do not identify which aspects of CETA were responsible for symptom improvement or explain the improvements seen among the control participants. Given that the study compared CETA to no treatment rather than a placebo (dummy) or active comparison intervention, it is not possible to conclude that CETA works better that existing treatments. Nevertheless, these findings support the continued development and assessment of transdiagnostic approaches for the treatment of mental health disorders in low-resource settings where treatment access and comorbid mental health disorders are important challenges.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at
The World Health Organization provides background information about mental health
The US National Institute of Mental Health provides information about a range of mental health disorders and about cognitive behavioral therapy
The UK National Health Service Choices website has information about cognitive behavioral therapy, including some personal stories and links to other related mental health resources on the Choices website
A short introduction to transdiagnosis and CETA written by one of the trial authors is available
Information about this trial is available on the website
The UN Refugee Agency provides information about Burmese (Myanmar) refugees in Thailand
PMCID: PMC4227644  PMID: 25386945
8.  Promoting Healthy Lifestyles in High School Adolescents 
Although obesity and mental health disorders are two major public health problems in adolescents that affect academic performance, few rigorously designed experimental studies have been conducted in high schools.
The goal of the study was to test the efficacy of the COPE (Creating Opportunities for Personal Empowerment) Healthy Lifestyles TEEN (Thinking, Emotions, Exercise, Nutrition) Program, versus an attention control program (Healthy Teens) on: healthy lifestyle behaviors, BMI, mental health, social skills, and academic performance of high school adolescents immediately after and at 6 months post-intervention.
A cluster RCT was conducted. Data were collected from January 2010 to May of 2012 and analyzed in 2012–2013.
A total of 779 culturally diverse adolescents in the U.S. Southwest participated in the trial.
COPE was a cognitive–behavioral skills-building intervention with 20 minutes of physical activity integrated into a health course, taught by teachers once a week for 15 weeks. The attention control program was a 15-session, 15-week program that covered common health topics.
Main outcome measures
Primary outcomes assessed immediately after and 6 months post-intervention were healthy lifestyle behaviors and BMI. Secondary outcomes included mental health, alcohol and drug use, social skills, and academic performance.
Post-intervention, COPE teens had a greater number of steps per day (p=0.03) and a lower BMI (p=0.01) than did those in Healthy Teens, and higher average scores on all Social Skills Rating System subscales (p-values <0.05). Alcohol use was 11.17% in the COPE group and 21.46% in the Healthy Teens group (p=0.04). COPE teens had higher health course grades than did control teens. At 6 months post-intervention, COPE teens had a lower mean BMI than teens in Healthy Teens (COPE=24.72, Healthy Teens=25.05, adjusted M= −0.34, 95% CI= −0.56, −0.11). The proportion of those overweight was significantly different from pre-intervention to 6-month follow-up (Chi square=4.69, p=0.03), with COPE decreasing the proportion of overweight teens, versus an increase in overweight in control adolescents. There were no differences in alcohol use at 6 months (p=0.06).
COPE can improve short- and more long-term outcomes in high school teens.
Trial registration
This study is registered at NCT01704768.
PMCID: PMC4285557  PMID: 24050416
9.  Improvement in Psychopathology Among Opioid-Dependent Adolescents During Behavioral-Pharmacological Treatment 
Journal of addiction medicine  2011;5(4):264-271.
To examine changes in behavioral and emotional problems among opioid-dependent adolescents during a four week combined behavioral and pharmacological treatment.
We examined scales of behavioral and emotional problems in youth using the Youth Self Report (YSR) measure at the time of substance abuse treatment intake and changes in scale scores during treatment Participants were 36 adolescents (ages 13–18 eligible) who met DSM-IV criteria for opioid dependence. Participants received a 28-day outpatient, medication-assisted withdrawal with either buprenorphine, or clonidine, as part of a double-blind, double-dummy comparison of these medications. All participants received a common behavioral intervention, composed of three individual counseling sessions per week, and incentives contingent on opioid-negative urine samples (collected three times/week) attendance and completion of weekly assessments. Results: Although a markedly greater number of youth who received buprenorphine remained in treatment relative to those who received clonidine, youth who remained in treatment showed significant reductions during treatment on two YSR grouping scales (Internalizing Problems and Total Problems) and four of the empirically based syndrome scales (Somatic, Social, Attention and Thought). On YSR competence and adaptive scales, no significant changes were observed. There was no evidence that changes in any scales differed across medication condition.
Youth who were retained demonstrated substantive improvements in a number of clinically meaningful behavioral and emotional problems, irrespective of pharmacotherapy provided to them.
PMCID: PMC3223378  PMID: 22107875
adolescents; opioid-dependence; psychopathology; treatment
10.  Switching from Methylphenidate-Immediate Release (MPH-IR) to Methylphenidate-OROS (OROS-MPH): A Multi-center, Open-label Study in Korea 
The objective of this study was to evaluate the efficacy and safety of methylphenidate HCL OROS extended-release (OROS-MPH) among children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) who had been previously treated with methylphenidate HCL immediate-release (MPH-IR).
The sample included 102 children aged 6-12 (9.4±2.6) years who had been diagnosed with ADHD according the criteria of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-Fourth Edition (DSM-IV; American Psychiatric Association, 1994) and who were attending seven centers in Korea. All participants had been medicated with a stable dose of MPH (10-60 mg/day) for at least 3 weeks before entry into the study. Doses of OROS-MPH were comparable to daily doses of MPH. Efficacy was assessed at baseline (day 0) and at day 28 with the Inattentive-Overactive with Aggression (IOWA) Conners Rating Scale, which was completed by parents/caregivers and teachers, the Peer Interaction Rating Items, which were completed by teachers, and the Clinical Global Impression (CGI) scale, which was completed by child psychiatrists. Paired t-tests were used, and P-values were set at the 0.05 level.
Of the subjects, 92.2% were boys and 79.4% were students in the first to fourth grades of elementary school. 72% were diagnosed with the combined type of ADHD, 23% were diagnosed with the inattentive type, and 5% were diagnosed with the hyperactive-impulsive type. The results of the parents' responses to the Inattention/Hyperactivity (I/H) and Oppositional/Defiant (O/D) subscales of the IOWA Conners scale indicated statistically significant improvement in childrens behavior after 4 weeks of treatment with OROS-MPH (t=6.28, p<.001, t=4.12, p<.001). However, the teachers' responses to the Conners I/H and O/D subscales indicated no significant improvement at 4 weeks. The teachers also reported no significant improvements under the OROS-MPH compared with the MPH-IR condition with respect to peer interactions. Scores on the CGI scale showed that 46.1% of children with ADHD were rated by psychiatrists as "minimally improved", 27.5% as "much improved," 1.0% as "very much improved," 3.9% as "minimally worse," and 16.7% as showing "no change". Children exhibited significantly fewer tics with OROS-MPH treatment than with MPH-IR treatment (19.6% vs. 27.7%). We found no differences between in sleep and appetite problems according to medication.
The results of this study indicated that an MPH-IR regimen can be successfully changed to a once-daily OROS-MPH regimen without any serious adverse effects. The changes in parent/caregiver IOWA Conners ratings suggested that OROS-MPH improved the control of symptoms after school, a finding that is consistent with the 12-h duration of action of this medication. Because the therapeutic effect of OROS-MPH is sufficiently longer than that of a b.i.d. dose of MPH-IR, OROS-MPH had significant positive effects on oppositional/defiant behavior in addition to its effects on the core symptoms of ADHD.
PMCID: PMC3568652  PMID: 23430964
Attention deficit hyperactive disorder; Methylphenidate IR; OROS-MPH; Switching
11.  “Together at school” - a school-based intervention program to promote socio-emotional skills and mental health in children: study protocol for a cluster randomized controlled trial 
BMC Public Health  2014;14(1):1042.
Schools provide a natural context to promote children’s mental health. However, there is a need for more evidence-based, high quality school intervention programs combined with an accurate evaluation of their general effectiveness and effectiveness of specific intervention methods. The aim of this paper is to present a study protocol of a cluster randomized controlled trial evaluating the “Together at School” intervention program. The intervention program is designed to promote social-emotional skills and mental health by utilizing whole-school approach and focuses on classroom curriculum, work environment of school staff, and parent-teacher collaboration methods.
The evaluation study examines the effects of the intervention on children’s socio-emotional skills and mental health in a cluster randomized controlled trial design with 1) an intervention group and 2) an active control group. Altogether 79 primary school participated at baseline. A multi-informant setting involves the children themselves, their parents, and teachers. The primary outcomes are measured using parent and teacher ratings of children’s socio-emotional skills and psychological problems measured by the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire and the Multisource Assessment of Social Competence Scale. Secondary outcomes for the children include emotional understanding, altruistic behavior, and executive functions (e.g. working memory, planning, and inhibition). Secondary outcomes for the teachers include ratings of e.g. school environment, teaching style and well-being. Secondary outcomes for both teachers and parents include e.g. emotional self-efficacy, child rearing practices, and teacher-parent collaboration. The data was collected at baseline (autumn 2013), 6 months after baseline, and will be collected also 18 months after baseline from the same participants.
This study protocol outlines a trial which aims to add to the current state of intervention programs by presenting and studying a contextually developed and carefully tested intervention program which is tailored to fit a national school system. Identification of effective intervention elements to promote children’s mental health in early school years is crucial for optimal later development.
Trial registration register: NCT02178332.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-1042) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4201723  PMID: 25287298
Children; Intervention; Promotion; Mental health; Socio-emotional skills; Whole school approach
12.  The effectiveness of a trauma-focused psycho-educational secondary prevention program for children exposed to interparental violence: study protocol for a randomized controlled trial 
Trials  2012;13:12.
Children who witness interparental violence are at a heightened risk for developing psychosocial, behavioral and cognitive problems, as well as posttraumatic stress symptoms. For these children the psycho-educational secondary prevention program 'En nu ik...!' ('It's my turn now!') has been developed. This program includes specific therapeutic factors focused on emotion awareness and expression, increasing feelings of emotional security, teaching specific coping strategies, developing a trauma narrative, improving parent-child interaction and psycho-education. The main study aim is to evaluate the effectiveness of the specific therapeutic factors in the program. A secondary objective is to study mediating and moderating factors.
This study is a prospective multicenter randomized controlled trial across cities in the Netherlands. Participants (N = 140) are referred to the secondary preventive intervention program by police, social work, women shelters and youth (mental health) care. Children, aged 6-12 years, and their parents, who experienced interparental violence are randomly assigned to either the intervention program or the control program. The control program is comparable on nonspecific factors by offering positive attention, positive expectations, recreation, distraction, warmth and empathy of the therapist, and social support among group participants, in ways that are similar to the intervention program. Primary outcome measures are posttraumatic stress symptoms and emotional and behavioral problems of the child. Mediators tested are the ability to differentiate and express emotions, emotional security, coping strategies, feelings of guilt and parent-child interaction. Mental health of the parent, parenting stress, disturbances in parent-child attachment, duration and severity of the domestic violence and demographics are examined for their moderating effect. Data are collected one week before the program starts (T1), and one week (T2) and six months (T3) after finishing the program. Both intention-to-treat and completer analyses will be done.
Adverse outcomes after witnessing interparental violence are highly diverse and may be explained by multiple risk factors. An important question for prevention programs is therefore to what extent a specific focus on potential psychotrauma is useful. This trial may point to several directions for optimizing public health response to children's exposure to interparental violence.
Trial registration
Netherlands Trial Register (NTR): NTR3064
PMCID: PMC3369208  PMID: 22309641
domestic violence; interparental violence; emotional security hypothesis; posttraumatic stress symptoms; behavioral problems; children; parent-child interaction; community group intervention; RCT; nonspecific factors
13.  Behavior and Sleep Problems in Children with a Family History of Autism 
The present study explores behavioral and sleep outcomes in preschool age siblings of children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). This study focuses on behavior problems that are common in children with ASD, such as emotional reactivity, anxiety, inattention, aggression, and sleep problems. Infant siblings were recruited from families with at least one older child with ASD (high-risk group, n = 104) or families with no history of ASD (low-risk group, n = 76). As part of a longitudinal prospective study, children completed the Mullen Scales of Early Learning and the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule, and parents completed the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) and the Social Communication Questionnaire at 36 months of age. This study focuses on developmental concerns outside of ASD; therefore, only siblings who did not develop an ASD were included in analyses. Negative binomial regression analyses revealed that children in the high-risk group were more likely to have elevated behavior problems on the CBCL Anxious/Depressed and Aggression subscales. To explore sleep problems as a correlate of these behavior problems, a second series of models was specified. For both groups of children, sleep problems were associated with elevated behavior problems in each of the areas assessed (reactivity, anxiety, somatic complaints, withdrawal, attention, and aggression). These findings support close monitoring of children with a family history of ASD for both behavioral and sleep issues.
PMCID: PMC3947924  PMID: 23436793
autism; siblings; behavior problems; sleep
14.  What Specific Facets of Executive Function are Associated with Academic Functioning in Youth with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder? 
Journal of abnormal child psychology  2013;41(7):1145-1159.
The purpose of the study was to evaluate the relation between ratings of Executive Function (EF) and academic functioning in a sample of 94 middle-school-aged youth with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD; Mage = 11.9; 78% male; 21% minority). This study builds on prior work by evaluating associations between multiple specific aspects of EF (e.g., working memory, inhibition, and planning and organization) as rated by both parents and teachers on the Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function (BRIEF), with multiple academic outcomes, including school grades and homework problems. Further, this study examined the relationship between EF and academic outcomes above and beyond ADHD symptoms and controlled for a number of potentially important covariates, including intelligence and achievement scores. The EF Planning and Organization subscale as rated by both parents and teachers predicted school grades above and beyond symptoms of ADHD and relevant covariates. Parent ratings of youth’s ability to transition effectively between tasks/situations (Shift subscale) also predicted school grades. Parent-rated symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity/impulsivity, and planning and organization abilities were significant in the final model predicting homework problems. In contrast, only symptoms of inattention and the Organization of Materials subscale from the BRIEF were significant in the teacher model predicting homework problems. Organization and planning abilities are highly important aspects academic functioning for middle-school-aged youth with ADHD. Implications of these findings for the measurement of EF, and organization and planning abilities in particular, are discussed along with potential implications for intervention.
PMCID: PMC3758442  PMID: 23640285
Executive Function; ADHD; Academic Functioning; School Grades
15.  Promoting Children's Social-Emotional Skills in Preschool Can Enhance Academic and Behavioral Functioning in Kindergarten: Findings from Head Start REDI 
Early education and development  2013;24(7):10.1080/10409289.2013.825565.
This study examined processes of change associated with the positive preschool and kindergarten outcomes of children who received the Head Start REDI intervention, compared to “usual practice” Head Start. In a large-scale randomized-controlled trial (N = 356 children, 42% African American or Latino, all from low-income families), this study tests the logic model that improving preschool social-emotional skills (e.g., emotion understanding, social problem solving, and positive social behavior) as well as language/emergent literacy skills will promote cross-domain academic and behavioral adjustment after children transition into kindergarten. Validating this logic model, the present study finds that intervention effects on three important kindergarten outcomes (e.g., reading achievement, learning engagement, and positive social behavior) were mediated by preschool gains in the proximal social-emotional and language/emergent literacy skills targeted by the REDI intervention. Importantly, preschool gains in social-emotional skills made unique contributions to kindergarten outcomes in reading achievement and learning engagement, even after accounting for the concurrent preschool gains in vocabulary and emergent literacy skills. These findings highlight the importance of fostering at-risk children's social-emotional skills during preschool as a means of promoting school readiness.
The REDI (Research-Based, Developmentally-Informed) enrichment intervention was designed to complement and strengthen the impact of existing Head Start programs in the dual domains of language/emergent literacy skills and social-emotional competencies. REDI was one of several projects funded by the Interagency School Readiness Consortium, a partnership of four federal agencies (the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the Administration for Children and Families, the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation in the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services in the Department of Education). The projects funded through this partnership were designed to assess how integrative early interventions for at-risk children could promote learning and development across multiple domains of functioning. In addition, the projects were charged with examining processes of change and identifying mechanisms of action by which the early childhood interventions fostered later school adjustment and academic achievement.
This study examined such processes of change, with the goal of documenting hypothesized cross-domain influences on kindergarten outcomes. In particular, this study tested whether gains in the proximal language/emergent literacy and social-emotional competencies targeted during Head Start would mediate the REDI intervention effects on kindergarten academic and behavioral outcomes. In addition, it tested the hypothesis that gains in social-emotional competencies during preschool would make unique contributions to intervention effects on both academic and behavioral outcomes, even after accounting for the effects of preschool gains in language and emergent literacy skills.
PMCID: PMC3845880  PMID: 24311939
16.  Social Attention in a Virtual Public Speaking Task in Higher Functioning Children with Autism 
Impairments in social attention play a major role in autism, but little is known about their role in development after preschool. In this study a public speaking task was used to study social attention, its moderators, and its association with classroom learning in elementary and secondary students with higher functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder (HFASD).
Thirty-seven students with HFASD and 54 age and IQ-matched peers without symptoms of ASD were assessed in a virtual classroom public speaking paradigm. This paradigm assessed the ability to attend to 9 avatar peers seated at a table, while simultaneously answering self-referenced questions.
Students with HFASD looked less frequently to avatar peers in the classroom while talking. However, social attention was moderated in the HFASD sample such that students with lower IQ, and/or more symptoms of social anxiety, and/or more ADHD Inattentive symptoms, displayed more atypical social attention. Group differences were more pronounced when the classroom contained social avatars versus non-social targets. Moreover, measures of social attention rather than non-social attention were significantly associated with parent report and objective measures of learning in the classroom.
The data in this study supports the hypothesis of the Social Attention Model of ASD that social attention disturbance remains part of the school-aged phenotype of autism that is related to syndrome specific problems in social learning. More research of this kind would likely contribute to advances in the understanding of the development of autism and educational intervention approaches for affected school-aged children.
PMCID: PMC3778085  PMID: 23696132
17.  Social-Emotional Problems in Preschool-Aged Children 
To estimate the prevalence of positive screens for social-emotional problems among preschool-aged children in a low-income clinical population and to explore the family context and receptivity to referrals to help guide development of interventions.
Observational, cross-sectional study.
Two urban primary care clinics.
A total of 254 parents of 3- and 4-year-old children at 2 urban primary care clinics.
Main Outcome Measures
Score on a standardized screen for social-emotional problems (Ages and Stages Questionnaire: Social-Emotional) and answers to additional survey questions about child care arrangements, parental depressive symptoms, and attitudes toward preschool and behavioral health referrals.
Twenty-four percent (95% CI, 16.5%-31.5%) of children screened positive for social-emotional problems. Among those screening positive, 45% had a parent with depressive symptoms, and 27% had no nonparental child care. Among parents of children who screened positive for social-emotional problems, 79% reported they would welcome or would not mind a referral to a counselor or psychologist; only 16% reported a prior referral.
In a clinical sample, 1 in 4 low-income preschool-aged children screened positive for social-emotional problems, and most parents were amenable to referrals to preschool or early childhood mental health. This represents an opportunity for improvement in primary prevention and early intervention for social-emotional problems.
PMCID: PMC3578344  PMID: 22926145
18.  The incredible years therapeutic dinosaur programme to build social and emotional competence in welsh primary schools: study protocol for a randomised controlled trial 
Trials  2011;12:39.
School interventions such as the Incredible Years Classroom Dinosaur Programme targets pupil behaviour across whole classrooms, yet for some children a more intense approach is needed. The Incredible Years Therapeutic Dinosaur Programme is effective for clinically referred children by enhancing social, problem-solving skills, and peer relationship-building skills when delivered in a clinical setting in small groups.
The aim of this trial is to evaluate the effectiveness of the Therapeutic Programme, delivered with small groups of children at high-risk of developing conduct disorder, delivered in schools already implementing the Classroom Programme.
This is a pragmatic, parallel, randomised controlled trial.
Two hundred and forty children (aged 4-8 years) rated by their teacher as above the 'borderline cut-off' for concern on the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire, and their parents, will be recruited.
Randomisation is by individual within blocks (schools); 1:1 ratio, intervention to waiting list control.
Twenty schools will participate in two phases. Two teachers per school will deliver the programme to six intervention children for 2-hours/week for 18 weeks between baseline and first follow-up. The control children will receive the intervention after first follow up.
Phase 1 comprises three data collection points - baseline and two follow-ups eight months apart. Phase 2 includes baseline and first follow-up.
The Therapeutic Programme includes elements on; Learning school rules; understanding, identifying, and articulating feelings; problem solving; anger management; how to be friendly; how to do your best in school.
Primary outcomes are; change in child social, emotional and behavioural difficulties. Secondary outcomes are; teacher and parent mental wellbeing, child academic attainment, child and teacher school attendance. Intervention delivery will be assessed for fidelity.
Intention to treat analyses will be conducted. ANCOVA, effect sizes, mediator and moderator analyses will be applied to establish differences between conditions, and for whom the intervention works best for and why.
This trial will provide information on the delivery and effectiveness of a child centred, school-based intervention delivered in small groups of children, at risk of developing more severe conduct problems. The effects on child behaviour in school and home environments, academic attainment, peer interactions, parent and teacher mental health will be assessed.
Trial Registration
UK Clinical Research Network UKCRNID8615
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN96803379
PMCID: PMC3044096  PMID: 21314913
19.  A Potential Electroencephalography and Cognitive Biosignature for the Child Behavior Checklist–Dysregulation Profile 
The Child Behavior Checklist–Dysregulation Profile (CBCL/DP) identifies youth at increased risk for significant psychopathology. Although the genetic architecture and several biological correlates of the CBCL/DP have been described, little work has elucidated its underlying neurobiology. We examined the potential utility of electroencephalography (EEG), along with behavioral and cognitive assessments, in differentiating individuals based on the CBCL/DP.
Participants aged 7–14 years were categorized into three age- and sex-matched groups based on clinical assessment and CBCL/DP: typically developing non-attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) controls (n=38), ADHD without the CBCL/DP (ADHD/DP−)(n=38), and individuals with the CBCL/DP (CBCL/DP+) (n=38). Groups were compared with EEG and measures of clinical phenomenology and cognition.
ADHD/DP− and CBCL/DP+ groups had increased inattention, but the CBCL/DP+ group had increased hyperactive/impulsive symptoms, disruptive behavior, mood, and anxiety comorbidities compared with ADHD alone. Cognitive profiles suggested that ADHD/DP− participants had fast impulsive responses, while CBCL/DP+ participants were slow and inattentive. On EEG, CBCL/DP+ had a distinct profile of attenuated delta and elevated alpha band spectral power in central and parietal regions compared to ADHD/DP− and controls. The low delta/high alpha profile was correlated with measures of emotion and behavior problems and not with inattentive symptomatology or cognitive measures. There were no EEG differences between ADHD/DP− and control groups.
An EEG/cognitive profile suggests a distinct pattern of underlying neural dysfunction with the CBCL/DP that might ultimately serve as a biosignature. Further work is required to identify potential relationships with clinically defined psychiatric disorders, particularly those of dysregulated mood.
PMCID: PMC3839814  PMID: 24157391
attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD); biological markers; brain imaging techniques; cognitive neuroscience; mood dysregulation
20.  Combining Parent and Child Training for Young Children with ADHD 
The efficacy of the Incredible Years parent and child training programs is established in children diagnosed with oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) but not among young children whose primary diagnosis is attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). We conducted a randomized control trial evaluating the combined parent and child program interventions among 99 children diagnosed with ADHD (ages 4–6). Mother reported significant treatment effects for appropriate and harsh discipline, use of physical punishment, and monitoring, whereas fathers reported no significant parenting changes. Independent observations revealed treatment effects for mothers' praise and coaching, mothers' critical statements, and child total deviant behaviors. Both mothers and fathers reported treatment effects for children's externalizing, hyperactivity, inattentive and oppositional behaviors, and emotion regulation and social competence. There were also significant treatment effects for children's emotion vocabulary and problem-solving ability. At school teachers reported treatment effects for externalizing behaviors and peer observations indicated improvements in treated children's social competence.
PMCID: PMC3059849  PMID: 21391017
21.  Evaluation of an early detection tool for social-emotional and behavioral problems in toddlers: The Brief Infant Toddler Social and Emotional Assessment - A cluster randomized trial 
BMC Public Health  2011;11:494.
The prevalence of social-emotional and behavioral problems is estimated to be 8 to 9% among preschool children. Effective early detection tools are needed to promote the provision of adequate care at an early stage. The Brief Infant-Toddler Social and Emotional Assessment (BITSEA) was developed for this purpose. This study evaluates the effectiveness of the BITSEA to enhance social-emotional and behavioral health of preschool children.
Methods and Design
A cluster randomized controlled trial is set up in youth health care centers in the larger Rotterdam area in the Netherlands, to evaluate the BITSEA. The 31 youth health care centers are randomly allocated to either the control group or the intervention group. The intervention group uses the scores on the BITSEA and cut-off points to evaluate a child's social-emotional and behavioral health and to decide whether or not the child should be referred. The control group provides care as usual, which involves administering a questionnaire that structures the conversation between child health professionals and parents. At a one year follow-up measurement the social-emotional and behavioral health of all children included in the study population will be evaluated.
It is hypothesized that better results will be found, in terms of social-emotional and behavioral health in the intervention group, compared to the control group, due to more adequate early detection, referral and more appropriate and timely care.
Trial registration
Current Controlled Trials NTR2035
PMCID: PMC3146861  PMID: 21702936
22.  The Long-Term Health Consequences of Child Physical Abuse, Emotional Abuse, and Neglect: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(11):e1001349.
Rosana Norman and colleagues conduct a systematic review and meta-analysis to assess the relationship between child physical abuse, emotional abuse, and neglect, and subsequent mental and physical health outcomes.
Child sexual abuse is considered a modifiable risk factor for mental disorders across the life course. However the long-term consequences of other forms of child maltreatment have not yet been systematically examined. The aim of this study was to summarise the evidence relating to the possible relationship between child physical abuse, emotional abuse, and neglect, and subsequent mental and physical health outcomes.
Methods and Findings
A systematic review was conducted using the Medline, EMBASE, and PsycINFO electronic databases up to 26 June 2012. Published cohort, cross-sectional, and case-control studies that examined non-sexual child maltreatment as a risk factor for loss of health were included. All meta-analyses were based on quality-effects models. Out of 285 articles assessed for eligibility, 124 studies satisfied the pre-determined inclusion criteria for meta-analysis. Statistically significant associations were observed between physical abuse, emotional abuse, and neglect and depressive disorders (physical abuse [odds ratio (OR) = 1.54; 95% CI 1.16–2.04], emotional abuse [OR = 3.06; 95% CI 2.43–3.85], and neglect [OR = 2.11; 95% CI 1.61–2.77]); drug use (physical abuse [OR = 1.92; 95% CI 1.67–2.20], emotional abuse [OR = 1.41; 95% CI 1.11–1.79], and neglect [OR = 1.36; 95% CI 1.21–1.54]); suicide attempts (physical abuse [OR = 3.40; 95% CI 2.17–5.32], emotional abuse [OR = 3.37; 95% CI 2.44–4.67], and neglect [OR = 1.95; 95% CI 1.13–3.37]); and sexually transmitted infections and risky sexual behaviour (physical abuse [OR = 1.78; 95% CI 1.50–2.10], emotional abuse [OR = 1.75; 95% CI 1.49–2.04], and neglect [OR = 1.57; 95% CI 1.39–1.78]). Evidence for causality was assessed using Bradford Hill criteria. While suggestive evidence exists for a relationship between maltreatment and chronic diseases and lifestyle risk factors, more research is required to confirm these relationships.
This overview of the evidence suggests a causal relationship between non-sexual child maltreatment and a range of mental disorders, drug use, suicide attempts, sexually transmitted infections, and risky sexual behaviour. All forms of child maltreatment should be considered important risks to health with a sizeable impact on major contributors to the burden of disease in all parts of the world. The awareness of the serious long-term consequences of child maltreatment should encourage better identification of those at risk and the development of effective interventions to protect children from violence.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Child maltreatment—the abuse and neglect of children—is a global problem. There are four types of child maltreatment—sexual abuse (the involvement of a child in sexual activity that he or she does not understand, is unable to give consent to, or is not developmentally prepared for), physical abuse (the use of physical force that harms the child's health, survival, development, or dignity), emotional abuse (the failure to provide a supportive environment by, for example, verbally threatening the child), and neglect (the failure to provide for all aspects of the child's well-being). Most child maltreatment is perpetrated by parents or parental guardians, many of whom were maltreated themselves as children. Other risk factors for parents abusing their children include poverty, mental health problems, and alcohol and drug misuse. Although there is considerable uncertainty about the frequency and severity of child maltreatment, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) about 20% of women and 5%–10% of men report being sexually abused as children, and the prevalence of physical abuse in childhood may be 25%–50%.
Why Was This Study Done?
Child maltreatment has a large public health impact. Sometimes this impact is immediate and direct (injuries and deaths), but, more often, it is long-term, affecting emotional development and overall health. For child sexual abuse, the relationship between abuse and mental disorders in adult life is well-established. Exposure to other forms of child maltreatment has also been associated with a wide range of psychological and behavioral problems, but the health consequences of physical abuse, emotional abuse, and neglect have not been systematically examined. A better understanding of the long-term health effects of child maltreatment is needed to inform maltreatment prevention strategies and to improve treatment for children who have been abused or neglected. In this systematic review and meta-analysis, the researchers quantify the association between exposure to physical abuse, emotional abuse, and neglect in childhood and mental health and physical health outcomes in later life. A systematic review uses predefined criteria to identify all the research on a given topic; a meta-analysis is a statistical approach that combines the results of several studies.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified 124 studies that investigated the relationship between child physical abuse, emotional abuse, or neglect and various health outcomes. Their meta-analysis of data from these studies provides suggestive evidence that child physical abuse, emotional abuse, and neglect are causally linked to mental and physical health outcomes. For example, emotionally abused individuals had a three-fold higher risk of developing a depressive disorder than non-abused individuals (an odds ratio [OR] of 3.06). Physically abused and neglected individuals also had a higher risk of developing a depressive disorder than non-abused individuals (ORs of 1.54 and 2.11, respectively). Other mental health disorders associated with child physical abuse, emotional abuse, or neglect included anxiety disorders, drug abuse, and suicidal behavior. Individuals who had been non-sexually maltreated as children also had a higher risk of sexually transmitted diseases and/or risky sexual behavior than non-maltreated individuals. Finally, there was weak and inconsistent evidence that child maltreatment increased the risk of chronic diseases and lifestyle risk factors such as smoking.
What Do These Findings Mean?
By providing suggestive evidence of a causal link between non-sexual child maltreatment and mental health disorders, drug use, suicide attempts, and sexually transmitted diseases and risky sexual behavior, these findings contribute to our understanding of the non-injury health impacts of child maltreatment. Although most of the studies included in the meta-analysis were undertaken in high-income countries, the findings suggest that this link occurs in both high- and low-to-middle-income countries. They also suggest that neglect may be as harmful as physical and emotional abuse. However, they need to be interpreted carefully because of the limitations of this meta-analysis, which include the possibility that children who have been abused may share other, unrecognized factors that are actually the cause of their later mental health problems. Importantly, this confirmation that physical abuse, emotional abuse, and neglect in childhood are important risk factors for a range of health problems draws attention to the need to develop evidence-based strategies for preventing child maltreatment both to reduce childhood suffering and to alleviate an important risk factor for later health problems.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at
The World Health Organization provides information on child maltreatment and its prevention (in several languages); Preventing Child Maltreatment: A Guide to Taking Action and Generating Evidence is a 2006 report produced by WHO and the International Society for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides information on child maltreatment and links to additional resources
The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) is a not-for-profit organization that aims to end all cruelty to children in the UK; Childline is a resource provided by the NSPCC that provides help, information, and support to children who are being abused
The Hideout is a UK-based website that helps children and young people understand domestic abuse
Childhelp is a US not-for-profit organization dedicated to helping victims of child abuse and neglect; its website includes a selection of personal stories about child maltreatment
PMCID: PMC3507962  PMID: 23209385
23.  Dynamic changes in anger, externalizing and internalizing problems: Attention and regulation 
Low levels of dispositional anger and a good attention span are critical to healthy social emotional development, with attention control reflecting effective cognitive self-regulation of negative emotions such as anger. Using a longitudinal design, we examined attention span as a moderator of reciprocal links between changes in anger and changes in externalizing and internalizing problems from 4.5 to 11 years of age.
Participants were children from the Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development (SECCYD), assessed four times between 4.5 and 11 years. Composite scores for anger and attention were computed using indicators from multiple informants. Externalizing and internalizing problems were reported by mothers.
Latent difference score analysis showed reciprocal lagged effects between increased anger and elevated levels of externalizing or internalizing problems. Significant moderating effects of attention indicated more persistent effects of anger on externalizing problems in the poor attention group. Although the poor and the good attention groups did not differ regarding the effects of anger on internalizing problems, significant moderating effects of attention indicated stronger and more persistent reciprocal effects of internalizing problems on anger in the poor attention group.
Attention control mechanisms are involved in self-regulation of anger and its connections with changes in behavioral and emotional problems. Strong attention regulation may serve to protect children with higher levels of dispositional anger from developing behavioral and emotional problems in middle childhood.
PMCID: PMC3006010  PMID: 20825522
24.  Comparative Efficacy of Seven Psychotherapeutic Interventions for Patients with Depression: A Network Meta-Analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(5):e1001454.
Jürgen Barth and colleagues use network meta-analysis - a novel methodological approach - to reexamine the comparative efficacy of seven psychotherapeutic interventions for adults with depression.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Previous meta-analyses comparing the efficacy of psychotherapeutic interventions for depression were clouded by a limited number of within-study treatment comparisons. This study used network meta-analysis, a novel methodological approach that integrates direct and indirect evidence from randomised controlled studies, to re-examine the comparative efficacy of seven psychotherapeutic interventions for adult depression.
Methods and Findings
We conducted systematic literature searches in PubMed, PsycINFO, and Embase up to November 2012, and identified additional studies through earlier meta-analyses and the references of included studies. We identified 198 studies, including 15,118 adult patients with depression, and coded moderator variables. Each of the seven psychotherapeutic interventions was superior to a waitlist control condition with moderate to large effects (range d = −0.62 to d = −0.92). Relative effects of different psychotherapeutic interventions on depressive symptoms were absent to small (range d = 0.01 to d = −0.30). Interpersonal therapy was significantly more effective than supportive therapy (d = −0.30, 95% credibility interval [CrI] [−0.54 to −0.05]). Moderator analysis showed that patient characteristics had no influence on treatment effects, but identified aspects of study quality and sample size as effect modifiers. Smaller effects were found in studies of at least moderate (Δd = 0.29 [−0.01 to 0.58]; p = 0.063) and large size (Δd = 0.33 [0.08 to 0.61]; p = 0.012) and those that had adequate outcome assessment (Δd = 0.38 [−0.06 to 0.87]; p = 0.100). Stepwise restriction of analyses by sample size showed robust effects for cognitive-behavioural therapy, interpersonal therapy, and problem-solving therapy (all d>0.46) compared to waitlist. Empirical evidence from large studies was unavailable or limited for other psychotherapeutic interventions.
Overall our results are consistent with the notion that different psychotherapeutic interventions for depression have comparable benefits. However, the robustness of the evidence varies considerably between different psychotherapeutic treatments.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Depression is a very common condition. One in six people will experience depression at some time during their life. People who are depressed have recurrent feelings of sadness and hopelessness and might feel that life is no longer worth living. The condition can last for months and often includes physical symptoms such as headaches, sleeping problems, and weight gain or loss. Treatment of depression can include non-drug treatments (psychotherapy), antidepressant drugs, or a combination of the two. Especially for people with mild or intermediate depression, psychotherapy is often considered the preferred first option. Psychotherapy describes a range of different psychotherapies, and a number of established types of psychotherapies have all shown to work for at least some patients.
Why Was This Study Done?
While it is broadly accepted that psychotherapy can help people with depression, the question of which type of psychotherapy works best for most patients remains controversial. While many scientific studies have compared one psychotherapy with control conditions, there have been few studies that directly compared multiple treatments. Without such direct comparisons, it has been difficult to establish the respective merits of the different types of psychotherapy. Taking advantage of a recently developed method called “network meta-analysis,” the authors re-examine the evidence on seven different types of psychotherapy to see how well they have been shown to work and whether some work better than others.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers looked at seven different types of psychotherapy, which they defined as follows. “Interpersonal psychotherapy” is short and highly structured, using a manual to focus on interpersonal issues in depression. “Behavioral activation” raises the awareness of pleasant activities and seeks to increase positive interactions between the patient and his or her environment. “Cognitive behavioral therapy” focuses on a patient's current negative beliefs, evaluates how they affect current and future behavior, and attempts to restructure the beliefs and change the outlook. “Problem solving therapy” aims to define a patient's problems, propose multiple solutions for each problem, and then select, implement, and evaluate the best solution. “Psychodynamic therapy” focuses on past unresolved conflicts and relationships and the impact they have on a patient's current situation. In “social skills therapy,” patients are taught skills that help to build and maintain healthy relationships based on honesty and respect. “Supportive counseling” is a more general therapy that aims to get patients to talk about their experiences and emotions and to offer empathy without suggesting solutions or teaching new skills.
The researchers started with a systematic search of the medical literature for relevant studies. The search identified 198 articles that reported on such clinical trials. The trials included a total of 15,118 patients and compared one of the seven psychotherapies either with another one or with a common “control intervention”. In most cases, the control (no psychotherapy) was deferral of treatment by “wait-listing” patients or continuing “usual care.” With network meta-analysis they were able to summarize the results of all these trials in a meaningful way. They did this by integrating direct comparisons of several psychotherapies within the same trial (where those were available) with indirect comparisons across all trials (using no psychotherapy as a control intervention).
Based on the combined trial results, all seven psychotherapies tested were better than wait-listing or usual care, and the differences were moderate to large, meaning that the average person in the group that received therapy was better off than about half of the patients in the control group. When comparing the therapies with each other, the researchers saw small or no differences, meaning that none of them really stood out as much better or much worse than the others. They also found that the treatments worked equally well for different patient groups with depression (younger or older patients, or mothers who had depression after having given birth). Similarly, they saw no big differences when comparing individual with group therapy, or person-to-person with internet-based interactions between therapist and patient.
However, they did find that smaller and less rigorous studies generally found larger benefits of psychotherapies, and most of the studies included in the analysis were small. Only 36 of the studies had at least 50 patients who received the same treatment. When they restricted their analysis to those studies, the researchers still saw clear benefits of cognitive-behavioral therapy, interpersonal therapy, and problem-solving therapy, but not for the other four therapies.
What Do these Findings Mean?
Similar to earlier attempts to summarize and make sense of the many study results, this one finds benefits for all of the seven psychotherapies examined, and none of them stood as being much better than some or all others. The scientific support for being beneficial was stronger for some therapies, mostly because they had been tested more often and in larger studies.
Treatments with proven benefits still do not necessarily work for all patients, and which type of psychotherapy might work best for a particular patient likely depends on that individual. So overall this analysis suggests that patients with depression and their doctors should consider psychotherapies and explore which of the different types might be best suited for a particular patient.
The study also points to the need for further research. Whereas depression affects large numbers of people around the world, all of the trials identified were conducted in rich countries and Western societies. Trials in different settings are essential to inform treatment of patients worldwide. In addition, large high-quality studies should further explore the potential benefits of some of therapies for which less support currently exists. Where possible, future studies should compare psychotherapies with one another, because all of them have benefits, and it would not be ethical to withhold such beneficial treatment from patients.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
The US National Institute of Mental Health provides information on all aspects of depression (in English and Spanish); information on psychotherapy includes information on its most common forms
The UK National Health Service Choices website also provides detailed information about depression and includes personal stories about depression
The UK nonprofit Mind provides information on depression, including an explanation of the most common psychotherapies in the UK
MedlinePlus provides links to other resources about depression (in English and Spanish)
The UK nonprofit has a unique database of personal and patient experiences on depression
PMCID: PMC3665892  PMID: 23723742
25.  Mental health of adolescents reared in institutional care in Turkey: challenges and hope in the twenty-first centur 
The objectives of the study are (i) to describe and compare the epidemiology of emotional/behavioral problems and associated risk/protective factors among nationally representative samples of institutionally reared and similarly aged community-based adolescents brought up in their natural homes by means of youth self-reports, caregiver/parent, and teacher informants; and (ii) to identify mental health service needs and utilization. A cross-sectional survey was conducted between November 2005 through April 2006 using an equal probability cluster sample of 11–18 year old adolescents in institutional care settings (N = 350; 163 males, 187 females) and results were compared with similarly aged community sample of youth living in their natural homes (N = 2,206). The Sociodemographic Information Form, Youth Self Report (YSR), Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) by caregivers for institutional sample and parents for the community sample, and Teacher's Report Form (TRF) were used to obtain standardized data on demographic characteristics, emotional/behavioral problems, and risk/protective factors. The prevalence of problems behaviors by YSR, caregiver/parent CBCL, and TRF were: 47, 15.1, 20.5% for the institutional versus 10.1, 7.5 and, 9.5% for the community samples, respectively (p < 0.05). Youth self-reports were fourfold, and all informant reports were twofold higher for institutional versus community comparisons. Furthermore, institutional sample had consistently higher rates, not only of Externalizing, but Internalizing, Social Problems, Attention Problems, and Thought Problems, as well as discrete DSM-oriented scales, suggesting that labeling of institutional youth as simply aggressive and delinquent contributes to their further marginalization and does not comprehensively address their mental health needs. In terms of protective factors, we found that: perceived social support, high competency scores, supportive caregiving, getting along well with peers and relatives (positive relationships), and problem solving skills were significantly protective of mental health. On the other hand fatalistic beliefs, cigarette and alcohol use were significantly associated with increased risk for problem behaviors (p < 0.05). The primary reason for institutional placement was family disruption (68.9%), poverty (15.7%), abandonment (8.4%), and physical or sexual abuse (5.4%). Only 31.2% of the youth were in fact true orphans (loss of one or both parents). It is therefore remarkable that in terms of service use, despite consistently high prevalence of problem behaviors across all informant sources, only 2.4% of the youth had received any speciality mental health services during institutional care. In conclusion, there is a pressing need to transform the social and health care policy and to provide family and community-based alternatives for youth currently in institutional care in Turkey. Before this goal is achieved, it is necessary to address their mental health needs urgently and comprehensively. The highest rates of problems by youth self-report also support the view that the youths' own voices ought to be heard and need to inform the reform process regarding their future care.
PMCID: PMC3124379  PMID: 19644732
Institutional care; YSR; Mental health services needs

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