From the public health perspective, epidemiological data of child mental health and psychosocial correlates were necessary and very lacking in Lithuanian society that has been undergoing rapid socio-economic change since the past decades. Together with determining the prevalence rates of disorders and assessing the needs for the services, this study has also shifted attention from the highly selective samples of children attending children and adolescent mental health services towards less severe cases of psychopathology as well as different attitudes of parents and teachers. The aim of the first epidemiological study in Lithuania was to identify the prevalence of psychiatric disorders in the community sample of children.
Child psychiatric disorders were investigated in a representative sample of 3309 children aged 7–16 years (1162 7–10-year-olds and 2147 11–16-year-olds), using a two-phase design with the Lithuanian version of the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) in the first screening phase, and the Development and Well-Being Assessment (DAWBA) in the second diagnostic phase.
The estimated point prevalence of ICD-10 psychiatric disorders was 13.1% for the total sample (14.0% for the child sample and 12.1% for adolescent sample). The most common groups of disorders were Conduct disorders 6.6% (7.1% for child sample and 6.0% for adolescent sample), Anxiety disorders 5.0% (5.9% for child sample and 6.0% for adolescent sample), with Hyperkinesis being less common 2.0% (2.7% for child sample and 1.2% for adolescent sample). Potential risk factors were related to individual characteristics of the child (gender, poor general health, and stressful life experiences), and the family (single parenthood, foster care, unfavourable family climate, disciplining difficulties, worries related to TV or computer use).
The overall prevalence of youth psychiatric disorders was relatively high in this representative Lithuanian sample compared to Western European countries. The SDQ and DAWBA measures appear useful for the further research and clinical practice in this society.