[Psychopathological problems and psychosocial impairment in children and adolescents aged 3-17 years in the German population: prevalence and time trends at two measurement points (2003-2006 and 2009-2012): results of the KiGGS study: first follow-up (KiGGS Wave 1)].


Child and adolescent mental health problems burden not only the individual, but also their families and their social environment and may, therefore, be regarded as a highly relevant public health issue. The data on mental health problems of children and adolescents from the KiGGS Wave 1 study (sample period 2009-2012) make it possible to report on both current prevalence rates and time trends over the 6-year period beginning with the KiGGS baseline survey (2003-2006). The assessment of emotional and behavioral problems in KiGGS Wave 1 was carried out with the symptoms questionnaire of the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) in a telephone interview with 10,353 guardians of children and adolescents aged 3-17 years. Moreover, using the SDQ impact supplement, the KIGGS Wave 1 data provide information on psychosocial impairment following child and adolescent mental health problems. Subjects with a borderline or abnormal SDQ score, according to German normative data, were considered at risk. A total of 20.2% (95% CI: 18.9-21.6%) of the study subjects were identified as being at risk for a mental health disorder, compared with 20.0% (19.1-20.9%) during the KiGGS baseline study (age-standardized based on population from 12 December 2010). Thus, no significant changes over time in the prevalence of mental health problems were detected. Also, there were no statistically significant differences in prevalence by sex, age group, or socioeconomic status between the KiGGS baseline survey and KiGGS Wave 1. The statistical comparison of the subscale mean values for both girls and boys showed higher values with respect to the subscales for emotional problems, behavioral problems, and prosocial behavior and lower mean values for the peer problems subscale in KiGGS Wave 1. These partly small temporal trends, however, may be due to possible mode effects (written questionnaire in the KiGGS baseline study versus telephone interview in KiGGS Wave 1). The hyperactivity subscale remained stable across the two sample periods. Regarding impairments following mental health problems at the second sample period, boys were more affected in the areas of chronicity, family burden, and impact score. The high and stable prevalence rates and magnitude of emotional and behavioral problems should prompt increased preventive efforts.