Ten-year trends in self-reported emotional and behavioral problems of Dutch adolescents
Research comparing population samples from different time periods to investigate secular changes in adolescents’ psychosocial problems have mostly focused on parent and teacher reports. The few studies using self-reports have limitations, such as using only school-based samples or investigating a limited range of problems.
We investigated changes from 1993 to 2003 in Dutch 11- to 18-year-old girls’ and boys’ self-reported emotional and behavioral problems. We also examined whether trends were different for various socio-demographic groups.
We used the Youth Self-Report (YSR) to assess emotional and behavioral problems, and obtained self-reports of police contact, substance abuse, suicidal ideation and self-harm across two adolescent population samples, assessed in 1993 and 2003. To investigate whether reports were different for the 2 years, we performed analyses of variance on the mean scores, and chi-square analyses on the percentages of deviant-scoring children and children reporting specific problem behaviors for boys and girls separately. Logistic regressions were conducted to investigate interactions of year with various socio-demographic variables.
For boys, results showed a few small changes, indicating decreases from 1993 to 2003 in self-reported Social Problems, Externalizing, Aggressive Behavior, and Rule- Breaking Behavior. For girls, Thought problems, Somatic Complaints, Internalizing problems, suicidal ideation and self-harm increased. Drunkenness and drug use increased for both boys and girls. There were some differences between socio-demographic groups. Boys from low-SES families and younger adolescent girls experienced most increases.
We found evidence for some small trends in self-reported problems. For boys, some decreases were seen, regarding mostly behavioral problems, whereas for girls, some increases were seen in emotional and behavioral problems. Changes appeared to have most negatively affected young adolescent girls’ functioning.
Key wordsemotional problems behavioral problems time trends substance abuse adolescents epidemiology
This study was supported by grant SSWO 960 from the Sophia Foundation of Medical Research.
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