Psychological problems in children of families served at a primary pediatric care clinic and their association with demographic variables

Virginia Martín, Roser Granero, Lluís Sansa, Immaculada Clarà, Miquel Puente, Ricard Coronado, Lourdes Ezpeleta

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Background. Mental health disorders during childhood and adolescence have short and long-term consequences on development. There is evidence of the benefits of early detection of these disorders; however, most children suffering mental health problems do not receive proper care. Objective. To identify the main psychological problems affecting children attending a primary clinic of the public health care system. Method. The sample was selected from the control group of a study investigating exposure to domestic violence. Eighty-five children 4 to 15-years-old not exposed to domestic violence pertaining to 54 families served at two primary care centers of the Valles region were selected for participation in the study. Psychopathology was assessed using a semi-structured diagnostic interview following the DSM-IV criteria. Results. The most frequent disorders diagnosed were: specific phobia (11.8%) and stereotyped movement disorders (11.8%), enuresis (7.1%), attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (4.7%), tic disorders (4.7%), generalized anxiety (4.7%), oppositional defiant disorder (3.5%), social phobia (3.5%) and separation anxiety (2.4%). Age increased the odds of presenting anxiety disorders (OR=1.2; IC 95%: 1,02-1,41; p=0.026). Familial socioeconomic status was not associated with the presence of disorders. Conclusions. Psychological problems are frequent among children being seen at primary pediatric health care clinics. Early detection during childhood is important for intervention. The pediatrician is key for identifying those disorders and referring the children to a mental health professional.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8-14
JournalPediatria Catalana
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014


  • Child mental disorders
  • Early detection
  • Mental health
  • Pediatric care
  • Prevalence


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