Psychological problems of children in general pediatric settings
Keywords:Emotions. Behavior. Chronic Illnesses. Neurotic Disorders. Affective Symptoms. Factor, Risk. Pediatrics. Child Behavior Disorders. Depression.
Introduction: Chronic physical illnesses appear to be a significant risk factor for emotional and behavioral difficulties. The aim of present study was to determine the frequency of emotional and behavioral problems in children in general pediatric setting and to try to identify any risk factors which can predispose a child to develop psychological problems. Method: This was a pilot study conducted in the Pediatric unit of a tertiary teaching hospital in Lahore during March —May 2006. Following parental consent, hundred children consecutively admitted in the unit, who were between the ages of four to twelve and not critically ill were included in the study. Demographic details and information about risk factors were collected. Strengths and difficulties Questionnaire was also administered. Results: Among our sample, SDQ scores of 40% children were in abnormal range. Children with physical illnesses of more than one month were at higher risk of emotional and behavioral problems. (P value less than 0.05). Among risk factors, family history of psychiatric illness, and epilepsy, history of epilepsy in the child as well as presence of leaming disability reached statistical significant results. None of these children were identified or referred for psychological assessment. Conclusion: Emotional and behavioral difficulties commonly first present in Pediatric medical settings but often are not detected and therefore not treated. Pediatricians need to acquire skills in assessing and treating primary developmental and behavioral disorders, and in preventing and managing secondary emotional difficulties, which can arise because of major physical illness. Better liaison is also required between pediatricians and psychiatrists to improve early detection and treatment of psychiatric problems in children.
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