Effects of society and culture on parents’ ratings of children’s mental health problems in 45 societies

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To improve international needs assessment for child mental health services, it is necessary to employ standardized assessment methods that can be easily administered and scored, can be interpreted by practitioners and researchers with various kinds of training, and that perform similarly across many societies. To this end, we tested the effects of both society and culture on parents’ ratings of children’s problems. We used hierarchical linear modeling as well as analyses of variance to analyze parents’ Child Behavior Checklist ratings of 72,493 6- to 16-year-olds from 45 societies. The 45 societies were nested within 10 culture clusters based on the Global Leadership and Organizational Behavior Effectiveness (GLOBE) taxonomy. Societal differences accounted for 3.8–10.7% of variance in various kinds of problems, while differences between culture clusters (e.g., Anglo vs. Confucian) accounted for 0.1–10.0%. By contrast, differences associated with parents’ ratings of individual children accounted for 85.5–93.3% of variance. Averaged across 17 problem scales, society plus culture cluster accounted for about 10% of the variance in parents’ ratings of children’s problems, whereas individual differences and other possible variables accounted for about 90%. These findings indicate that parents’ standardized ratings can be used to assess effects associated with individual differences in child and adolescent psychopathology, over and above differences associated with societies and culture clusters.

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  • 12 March 2019

    Unfortunately, due to a technical error the International ASEBA Consortium was not listed as author in the original publication. This error is corrected via this correction.


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Dr. Althoff receives grant or research support from the National Institute of Mental Health (MH082116), the National Institute of Health Center of Biomedical Research Excellence award (P20GM103644), and the Klingenstein Third Generation Foundation. This research was also supported by the non-profit University of Vermont Research Center for Children, Youth, and Families.

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Correspondence to Leslie A. Rescorla.

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No animals were used in this research. All procedures involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committees and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

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Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Conflict of interest

The first, third, and fourth authors receive salary and/or other compensation from the non-profit University of Vermont Research Center for Children, Youth, and Families, which publishes the instrument used in this research. The second author declares that he has no conflict of interest.

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Rescorla, L.A., Althoff, R.R., Ivanova, M.Y. et al. Effects of society and culture on parents’ ratings of children’s mental health problems in 45 societies. Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry 28, 1107–1115 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00787-018-01268-3

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  • International epidemiology
  • Individual differences in child psychopathology
  • Cross-cultural
  • CBCL