Multicultural Comparisons of Syndromes and Scales Scored from Parents’ Reports of Preschoolers’ Behavioral and Emotional Problems

Important advances have been made in multicultural evidence-based assessment of psychopathology among school-age children and adolescents. Building on previous standardized assessments of psychopathology at ages 6 to 18 in dozens of societies, Masha Ivanova, Leslie Rescorla, and international colleagues in 23 societies on 5 continents have tested syndromes and scale scores for behavioral and emotional problems rated by parents of over 19,000 preschoolers (Ivanova et al., 2010; Rescorla et al, 2011). Parents of children selected to be representative of each society completed the Child Behavior Checklist for Ages 1½-5 (CBCL/1½-5) in the language of the society. To test how well parents’ ratings in each society fit the 7 CBCL/1½-5 syndromes previously derived from U.S. samples, Ivanova et al. performed confirmatory factor analyses (CFAs) of the data from each of the 23 non-U.S. societies. The data from every society were found to fit the 7-syndrome model, as tested by the Root Mean Square Error of Approximation (RMSEA). The 7 syndromes thus provide an evidence-based model for conceptualizing and assessing problems reported by parents of preschoolers from the U.S. and 23 other societies.

Rescorla et al. (2011) then tested the distributions of scores on the 7 syndrome scales, plus 5 DSM-oriented scales, a Stress Problems scale, and broad-band Internalizing, Externalizing, and Total Problems scales in the 24 societies (including the U.S.). Small to medium effects of differences among the 24 societies were found, but mean scale scores for most of the societies fell within a narrow range of the omnicultural mean of 33.3. Gender and age differences were similar and very small across all the societies. To test the degree to which the same CBCL/1½-5 items tended to receive relatively high, medium, or low ratings in the 24 societies, Rescorla et al. computed correlations of the mean ratings received by each of the 99 items in each society with the mean ratings received by each item in every other society. The mean of all the bi-society correlations was .78. This indicated considerable similarity in the items that parents in different societies rated high, medium, or low. Taken together, the Ivanova et al. and Rescorla et al. findings support the applicability of the CBCL/1½-5 to assessment of preschoolers in at least the 24 societies that were included in their studies. The data from these studies have been used to construct multicultural norms that allow users to display a child’s CBCL/1½-5 scale scores in relation to norms for societies selected by the user (Achenbach & Rescorla, 2010).

References: Achenbach, T.M., & Rescorla, L.A. (2010). Multicultural Supplement to the Manual for the ASEBA Preschool Forms & Profiles. Burlington, VT: University of Vermont Research Center for Children, Youth, and Families.

Ivanova, M.Y., et al. (2010). Preschool psychopathology reported by parents in 23 societies: Testing the seven-syndrome model of the Child Behavior Checklist for Ages 1.5-5. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 49, 1215-1224.

Rescorla, L.A., et al. (2011). International comparisons of behavioral and emotional problems in preschool children: Parents’ reports from 24 societies. Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology, 40, 456-467.