Predictors of Attention Problems for the Period from Pre-Teen to Early Teen YearsBarnow S. · Schuckit M. · Smith T. · Freyberger H.J.
aDepartment of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy of the Ernst-Moritz-Arndt University Greifswald, Medical Centre of Stralsund, Stralsund, Germany, and bDepartment of Psychiatry, University of California, San Diego, Calif., USA
Objective: This longitudinal study investigated the scope, persistence, and predictors of attention problems (AP) over a period of time from pre-teen (7–12 years) to early teen years (13–17 years). Method: AP evaluations used the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) and a semi-structured interview (C-SSAGA-P) with the parents. In addition, data relating to birth complications, family histories of affective disorders and alcohol-use disorders, home supervision, emotional, social and behavioral problems, school performance and school activities at two different measurement points were also collected. Results: The findings indicate a high degree of comorbidity between AP and emotional and behavioral problems, difficulties in school, social problems and peer rejection. Furthermore, a cross-sectional association between childhood AP and parental affective disorders was also evident. Longitudinally, there was no increase in AP over the age span covered by the study, and symptoms often did not persist over time. Multiple regression analyses confirmed poorer school performance, problems with peers and AP at time point 15 as predictors for subsequent AP. Conclusion: The findings indicate that AP symptoms do not occur more frequently in early teen than in pre-teen years, and tend to be temporary phenomena. Difficulties in school and with peers were noted as particularly strong predictors of subsequent AP.