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Revista de Saúde Pública

Print version ISSN 0034-8910

Abstract

ASSIS, Simone G; AVANCI, Joviana Quintes  and  OLIVEIRA, Raquel de Vasconcellos Carvalhaes de. Socioeconomic inequalities and child mental health. Rev. Saúde Pública [online]. 2009, vol.43, suppl.1, pp. 92-100. ISSN 0034-8910.

OBJECTIVE: To analyze the association between sociodemographic determinants and the development of social competence and behavior problems in children. METHODS: Cross-sectional study performed with 479 school children aged between six and 13 years, enrolled in the first grade of public elementary schools of the city of São Gonçalo, Southeastern Brazil, in 2005. Socioeconomic variables, family structure, parents' level of education, child ethnicity, and social competence and behavior problems were analyzed. Prevalence ratios with respective 95% confidence intervals were calculated. Data shown were expanded to the population of students of the school network investigated. RESULTS: Children who were below the poverty line, who had black skin color, whose parents had low level of education, and lived with single-parent families or comprised by stepmother/stepfather showed lower social competence and more behavior problems. The higher the risk factors, the higher the prevalence of children with low social competence and behavior problems. CONCLUSIONS: The association between sociodemographic determinants and higher prevalence of behavior problems and lower social competence in children requires that preventive and care actions should be prioritized by public policies, reducing severe social and emotional difficulties in children, which may continue into adulthood.

Keywords : Child; Mental Health; Child Behavior; Child Behavior Disorders; Epidemiology; Socioeconomic Factors; Health Inequalities; Cross-Sectional Studies.

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