Unhealthy family functioning as a psychological context underlying australian children's emotional and behavioural problems

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Objectives: Understanding the psychological reasons underlying children's emotional and behavioural problems can guide appropriate interventions. This study examined emotional and behavioural problems in Australian children and unhealthy family functioning as a psychological factor associated with development of these emotional and behavioural problems. Methods: The study utilised stratified surveys conducted by the New South Wales, Ministry of Health, during the years 2005-2008. A computer assisted telephone interviewing method was employed. The surveys collected information on demographics, family functioning measured by the General Functioning Scale, and emotional and behavioural problems measured by the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire. Children aged 4-15 years (n=7,210 children) were included. Logistic regression analyses were used for the emotional and behavioural problem outcomes. Results: Analyses adjusting for demographics revealed that unhealthy family functioning increased substantially the risks of emotional symptoms (OR = 2.53; 95% CI = 1.36-4.69), peer problems (OR = 6.26; 95% CI = 4.43-11.42), conduct problems (OR = 3.83; 95% CI = 1.88-7.84), and the overall emotional and behavioural problems (OR = 5.06; 95% CI = 2.42-10.58). Conclusions: Children from unhealthy family functioning backgrounds have a potential risk factor for emotional and behavioural problems. Mental health interventions aiming at improving the quality of parent-child relationships may reduce this potential risk for emotional and behavioural problems among the children.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2c24
JournalInternet Journal of Mental Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Dysfunction
  • Mental health
  • Parent-child relationships
  • Risk

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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