Exploring the social, emotional and behavioural development of preschool children: is Glasgow different?


BACKGROUND: Glasgow City has poorer adolescent and adult health outcomes in comparison to demographically similar cities in England and the rest of Scotland. Until now, little exploration of differences in child development between Glasgow and other areas has been made. The authors hypothesized that the poorer health outcomes and lifestyle behaviours of adults, coupled with relative economic deprivation, may impact on child social, emotional and behavioural development, compared with children from other parts of Scotland. METHODS: Data from the Growing Up in Scotland national birth cohort study were used. Differences between Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) scores and child and family characteristics of children living in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde (GGC) Health board vs. other health boards were examined. Logistic regression and linear regression models were fitted in order to explore independent associations between health board and SDQ raw and banded scores, respectively, whilst controlling for other contributing factors. RESULTS: Children in GGC were demographically different from those in other areas of Scotland, being significantly more likely to live in the most deprived areas, yet no difference was found in relation to the mental health of preschool-aged children in GGC. Children in GGC had slightly better SDQ Conduct Problems scores once demographic factors were controlled for. CONCLUSIONS: At 46 months, there does not appear to be any difference in Glasgow with regards to social, emotional and behavioural development. Glaswegian children appear to have slightly fewer conduct problems at this age, once demographics are taken into account. A range of theories are put forward as to why no differences were found, including the inclusion of areas adjacent to Glasgow City in the analysis, sleeper effects, and rater bias.