Background and aim: The aim of the study was to identify risk factors for significant changes in emotional and behavioural problem load in a community-based cohort of Danish children aged 9-16 years, the risk factors being seven parental and two child-related adverse life events. Methods: Data on emotional and behavioural problems was obtained from parents filling in the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) when the child was 8-9 and again when 15 years old. Data on risk factors was drawn from Danish registers. Analysis used was logistic regression for crude and adjusted change. Results: Parental divorce significantly raised the odds ratio of an increase in emotional and behavioural problems; furthermore, the risk of deterioration in problem behaviour rose significantly with increasing number of adverse life events. By dividing the children into four groups based on the pathway in problem load (increasers, decreasers, high persisters and low persisters), we found that children with a consistently high level of behavioural problems also had the highest number of adverse life events compared with any other group. Conclusions: Family break-up was found to be a significant risk factor. This supports findings in previous studies. The fact that no other risk factor proved to be of significance might be due to lack of power in the study. Children experiencing high levels of adverse life events are at high risk of chronic problem behaviour. Thus these risk factors should be assessed in daily clinical practice.
Nordic Journal of Psychiatry. Supplement, 2014, Vol 68, Issue 3, p. 189-195