John Rosendahl Østergaard

Screening for psychopathology in a national cohort of 8- to 15-year-old children with cerebral palsy

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Cerebral palsy (CP) is often accompanied by psychopathology and learning disability.

AIMS: (1) to evaluate the prevalence of psychopathology as estimated by the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) parental questionnaire in 8- to 15-year-old Danish children with CP and to analyze its association with cognitive ability and families' social characteristics; (2) to examine to what extent children with CP had been evaluated by a child psychiatrist and/or psychologist.

METHOD: The parents of 462 children with CP answered a questionnaire about their child's treatment and the family's characteristics and 446 the CBCL. The cutoff for psychopathology was the Total CBCL score or DSM-oriented scores above the 93rd percentile in an age- and gender-stratified population.

RESULTS: The psychopathology screening was positive in 46.2% (CI 41.6-50.8%) against 15.1% in general population. Cognitive disability was associated with an increased prevalence of psychopathology (odds ratio (OR) 2.6, CI 1.4-4.6, for Developmental Quotient of cognitive function (DQ) 50-85 and OR 3.0, CI 1.3-7.0, for DQ<50). Children with CP and a single parent showed increased odds for a positive CBCL screening compared to children living with two parents (OR 2.1, 95% CI 1.1-4.0). Children with DQ 50-85 more often had a psychological evaluation. A positive CBCL screening was strongly associated with a psychiatric assessment (21% vs. 7%, p<0.01).

CONCLUSION: The high prevalence of emotional and behavioral problems indicates that screening for psychopathology should be a part of multidisciplinary follow-up of CP. The CBCL can be used as a screening instrument in children with CP without severe motor and cognitive disability.

Original languageEnglish
JournalResearch in Developmental Disabilities
Volume49-50
Pages (from-to)171-180
Number of pages10
ISSN0891-4222
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 16 Dec 2015

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