Objectives To examine the prevalence of socioemotional and behavioural difficulties (SEBDs) in children with chronic physical conditions (CPCs) and to analyse how this prevalence varied with the type and number of CPCs and the age of the child.
Design Cross-sectional study of a secondary data analysis of the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children.
Setting An Australian nationally representative sample of general population of children.
Participants 15 610 children-waves aged 6–14 years.
Intervention/exposure Children reported to have at least 1 of the 21 CPCs by their parents.
Main outcome measures Clinically relevant SEBDs were defined using standardised cut-offs of the parent-administered Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire.
Results Children with a CPC have significantly increased odds of total, internalising and externalising SEBDs than those without (total SEBDs, adjusted odds rartio or OR 3.13, 95% CI 2.52 to 3.89), controlling for sex, age, socioeconomic status and parental mental health status. The highest prevalence of total SEBDs was found in children with chronic fatigue (43.8%), epilepsy (33.8%) and day wetting (31.6%). An increasing number of comorbid CPCs was associated with a rising prevalence of SEBDs. On average, 24.2% of children with at least four CPCs had SEBDs. These children had 8.83-fold increased odds (95% CI 6.9 to 11.31) of total SEBDs compared with children without a CPC. Age was positively related to the odds of SEBDs.
Conclusion Children with a CPC have a significantly increased risk of having SEBDs than those without. These findings highlight the need for routine assessment and integrated intervention for SEBDs among children with CPCs.
- Mental health
- Adolescent Health
Data availability statement
Data are available upon reasonable request. The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC) data are available upon reasonable request to the LSAC team.
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SD-W and NH are joint first authors.
Contributors SD-W and NH are joint first authors. SD-W analysed the data and prepared the first draft of the manuscript. NH conceived the study, assisted the data analysis, cosupervised the project and critically reviewed the manuscript. TM cosupervised the project and critically reviewed the manuscript. RO'L conceived the study, arranged the data for analysis and critically reviewed the manuscript. RL conceived the study, supervised the project and critically reviewed the manuscript. All authors accept full responsibility for the work and/or the conduct of the study, had access to the data, and controlled the decision to publish.
Funding This work was supported by the Financial Markets Foundation for Children for RL, a Research Training Program Scholarship provided by the Australian Commonwealth Government and the University of Melbourne for RO'L. The other authors received no funding relevant to this article. The funders of the study had no role in study design, data collection, data analysis, data interpretation or writing of the manuscript. No authors were paid to write this article by a pharmaceutical company or other agency. The authors had full access to all the data in the study and had the final responsibility for the decision to submit for publication.
Competing interests None declared.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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