Early identification of children at risk for costly mental health service use.

Published

Journal Article

Children and adolescents with serious and persistent conduct problems often require large public expenditures. Successfully diverting one high risk child from unfortunate outcomes may result in a net savings to society of nearly $2 million, not to mention improving the life of that child and his or her family. This figure highlights the potential of prevention, which often rests on the ability to identify these children at a young age. This study examined the ability of a short conduct-problems screening procedure to predict future need for mental health assistance, special education services, and the juvenile justice system during elementary school ages. The screen was based on teacher and parent report of child behavioral habits in kindergarten, and was used to identify children as either at risk or not at risk for behavioral problems. Service outcomes were derived from a service-use assessment administered to parents at the end of the sixth grade, while special education information was gathered through a survey of school records. Study participants (463 kindergarten children; 54% male, 44% African American) were from economically disadvantaged neighborhoods in four diverse communities across the United States. Results indicated that, while controlling for demographic background variables, the risk indicator strongly predicted which children would require services related to conduct disorder or behavioral/emotional problems. Additional analyses revealed that the dichotomous high risk indicator was nearly as strong as the continuous screening variable in predicting the service-use outcomes, and that the screening of both parents and teachers may not be necessary for determining risk status.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Jones, D; Dodge, KA; Foster, EM; Nix, R; Conduct Problems Prevention Research Group,

Published Date

  • December 2002

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 3 / 4

Start / End Page

  • 247 - 256

PubMed ID

  • 12458763

Pubmed Central ID

  • 12458763

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1573-6695

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1389-4986

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1023/a:1020896607298

Language

  • eng