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Long-term follow-up of emotional and behavioral problems


Group head: Jan van der Ende

The assessment of children’s emotional and behavioral problems is an important issue in both clinical practice and research. It is recognized nowadays that assessment procedures need to be standardized, reliable, and valid. Important factors that complicate the assessment in child and adolescent psychiatry are: The need of multiple informants (including parents, teachers, clinicians, and children themselves), the role of age and developmental change, and the distinction between a dimensional versus a categorical approach of assessing problems. The Zuid-Holland Longitudinal study enabled us to examine these issues with standardized instruments.

The Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry invested in translating and validating the ASEBA (Achenbach System of Empirically Based Assessment) questionnaires. These standardized questionnaires include versions for different ages (young children, school-age children, adults), or for different informants (parents, teachers, children or adults themselves, partners) Further information about the ASEBA questionnaires can be found on www.aseba.nl  (symposium June 15th 2011)

Zuid-Holland Longitudinal Study
In 1983 the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry conducted a survey to determine the prevalence of emotional and behavioral problems among more than 2,000 children aged 4-16 years. Parents completed during a home visit questionnaires including the ASEBA parent report. Teachers completed the ASEBA teacher report they received by mail. In 1985, 1987, 1989, 1991, 1997, 2007 follow-up assessments took place, which amounted to a total follow-up period of 24 years. At the last wave in 2007, the participants who were originally the children in 1983 were now adults aged 28-40 years. Multiple informants, including parents, teachers, participants themselves, and their partners provided information with similar ASEBA instruments about emotional and behavioral problems during the follow-up period. In addition to these assessments, various informants provided information about psychiatric diagnoses, service use, social functioning, personality, criminal behavior at various waves of the study. Research questions of the study include: How do childhood problems predict adult dysfunctioning, how do different types of antisocial behavior develop across age, what are the precursors of criminal behavior? Half of the participants in 2007 had children themselves. With assessing these children with the same instruments as were used for assessing their parents, the study addresses research questions on intergeneration transmission of emotional and behavioral problems too.