Age, Sex and Relationship Strengths: Internalizing Symptom Differences in Children and Youth Within a Clinical Sample

TitleAge, Sex and Relationship Strengths: Internalizing Symptom Differences in Children and Youth Within a Clinical Sample
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2022
AuthorsStewart SL, Lapshina N, Semovski V, Usova A
JournalJournal of the Canadian Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Date PublishedNov
ISBN Number1719-8429 (Print)<br/>1719-8429
Accession NumberPMID:36425015
Keywordsadolescents, Children, enfants, forces des relations, internalizing symptoms, InterRAI, relationship strengths, symptômes internalisants

BACKGROUND: Internalizing problems such as depression, anxiety and anhedonia are particularly problematic due to their covert nature. Due to their deleterious effects on psychological well-being, social connection and education, it is important to understand the development of internalizing problems and their unique contributors. OBJECTIVES: Examine whether internalizing symptoms vary by (i) age, and (ii) sex, and whether (iii) relationship strengths are associated with sex and internalizing symptoms. METHOD: Using a polynomial model with Tweedie distribution with log link, this study examined relationships for 18,701 clinically referred children and adolescents between 4 and 18 years of age assessed using the interRAI Child and Youth Mental Health assessment. RESULTS: Internalizing symptoms reported by children and adolescents varied by age and sex. Sex differences in internalizing symptoms became prominent after about six years of age with female adolescents reporting higher levels when compared to male peers. An increase in relationship strengths corresponded with a decrease in internalizing symptoms for both sexes. However, the pattern depended on sex. In our sample, females required a greater number of relationship strengths to observe a decrease in internalizing symptoms. CONCLUSIONS: The current study illustrates a difference in internalizing symptoms between females and males with respect to age and relationship strengths. The results may have implications for prevention and intervention strategies geared towards internalizing symptoms for children and adolescents.

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Conflicts of Interest The authors have no financial relationships or other ties to disclose.