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Concerns About Development, Behavior, and Learning Among Parents Seeking Pediatric Care

Sheldrick, R. Christopher PhD; Neger, Emily N. BA; Perrin, Ellen C. MD

Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics: February/March 2012 - Volume 33 - Issue 2 - p 156–160
doi: 10.1097/DBP.0b013e3182420f4a
Brief Report

Objective: To describe responses to the questions “Do you have concerns about your child's behavior? Development? Learning?” among parents seeking pediatric care, and to analyze their correspondence to formal screening questionnaires. Methods: Of 465 parents of children aged 3 to 65 months recruited at pediatric primary care practices in Greater Boston, 451 provided complete data for analysis. After completing a questionnaire that asked whether they had any or all of these concerns, parents filled out a developmental screener (Ages and Stages Questionnaire-3) and a behavioral screener (Ages and Stages Questionnaire: Social-Emotional). Results: One hundred eight parents (24%) reported having at least 1 concern about their child. Greater child age, male gender, and lower family income were associated with more concerns about development, behavior, and learning. Moderate agreement was found between parents' concerns and their responses on screening instruments, but among parents who identified no concerns, 18% were identified as at risk on one or both screening tests. Compared with children who were not identified on either screener, parents of children identified only on the behavioral screener were more likely to have concerns about behavior and parents of children identified on both screeners were more likely to have noted concerns about both behavior and development. No type of concern was associated with identification on the developmental screener alone. Conclusion: Parents' self-report of concerns showed moderate agreement with the results of developmental and behavioral screening instruments. Agreement was higher for behavioral concerns than for developmental concerns.

From Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics, Floating Hospital, Tufts Medical Center, Boston, MA.

Received September 2011; accepted November 2011.

This study was supported by the Commonwealth Fund and NIH/NCI Tufts CTSI grant number 1KM1CA156726.

Disclosure: The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Address for reprints: Emily Neger, BA, 800 Washington Street, Box 854, Boston, MA 02111; e-mail:

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.