Maternal recognition of child mental health problems in two Brazilian cities.


Objective:: To identify child behaviors and types of impairment that increase the likelihood of maternal recognition of emotional/behavioral problems (EBP) in children and adolescents. Methods:: Maternal-reported data were obtained from two subsamples of 11-to-16-year-olds derived from cross-sectional studies conducted in two Brazilian municipalities: Itaborai, state of Rio de Janeiro (n=480), and Embu, state of Sao Paulo (n=217). The Itaborai study involved a representative sample of 6-to-16-year-olds (n=1,248; response rate = 86.0%) selected from the Family Health Program registry, which covered 85.5% of the municipal population. The Embu study was based on a probabilistic sample of clusters of eligible households (women aged 15-49 years, child < 18 years), with one mother-child pair selected randomly per household (n=813; response rate = 82.4%). The outcome variable was mother's opinion of whether her child had EBP. Potential correlates included types of child behaviors (hyperactivity/conduct/emotional problems as isolated or combined conditions) and impairment, assessed using the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ); child's age and gender; maternal education and anxiety/depression (assessed using the Self-Reporting Questionnaire [SRQ]). Results:: Multivariate regression models identified the following correlates of maternal perception of child EBP: comorbidity (co-occurring hyperactivity/conduct/emotional problems), emotional problems alone, and interference of problems with classroom learning and friendships. Conclusion:: Comorbidity of different problem types, emotional problems alone, and interference with classroom learning and friendships increase the likelihood of maternal recognition of EBP in children.