Awareness and perceptions of clinical guidelines for the diagnostics and treatment of severe behavioural problems in children across Europe: A qualitative survey with academic experts

Alexandra-Raluca Gatej, Audri Lamers, Lieke van Domburgh, Matty Crone, Terje Ogden, Daniel Rijo, Eeva Aronen, Ricardo Barroso, Dorret I Boomsma, Robert Vermeiren

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


BACKGROUND: Severe behavioural problems (SBPs1) in childhood are highly prevalent, impair functioning, and predict negative outcomes later in life. Over the last decade, clinical practice guidelines for SBPs have been developed across Europe to facilitate the translation of scientific evidence into clinical practice. This study outlines the results of an investigation into academic experts' perspectives on the current prevalence, implementation, and utility of clinical guidelines for SBPs in children aged 6-12 across Europe.

METHODS: An online semi-structured questionnaire was completed by 28 psychiatry and psychology experts from 23 countries.

RESULTS: Experts indicated that approximately two thirds of the included European countries use at least an unofficial clinical document such as textbooks, while nearly half possess official guidelines for SBPs. Experts believed that, although useful for practice, guidelines' benefits would be maximised if they included more specific recommendations and were implemented more conscientiously. Similarly, experts suggested that unofficial clinical documents offer a wide range of treatment options to individualise treatment from. However, they stressed the need for more consistent, evidence-based clinical practices, by means of developing national and European clinical guidelines for SBPs.

CONCLUSIONS: This study offers a preliminary insight into the current successes and challenges perceived by experts around Europe associated with guidelines and documents for SBPs, acting as a stepping stone for future systematic, in-depth investigations of guidelines. Additionally, it establishes experts' consensus for the need to develop official guidelines better tailored to clinical practice, creating a momentum for a transition towards European clinical guidelines for this population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Psychiatry
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2019


Key experts in the field of SBPs in Europe who completed the questionnaire included: P.D. Dr. Belinda Plattner (Austria), Prof. Dr. Dirk van West (Belgium), Assoc. Prof. Kostas Fanti (Cyprus), Prof. Dr. Eeva Aronen (Finland), Prof. Dr. David Cohen (France), Prof. Dr. Christine Freitag (Germany), Prof. Dr. Christina Stadler (Germany), Assoc. Prof. Dr. Dimitris Anagnostopoulos (Greece), Dr.Margrét Sigmarsdóttir (Iceland), Dr. Pietro Muratori (Italy), Dr. Darius Leskaukas (Lithuania), Dr. Roland Paulauskas (Lithuania), Assoc. Prof. Jana Chihai (Repulic of Moldova), Prof. Emerit. Walter Matthys (Netherlands), Prof. Dr. Terje Ogden (Norway), Prof. Dr. Lars Wichstrom (Norway), Prof. Dr. Daniel Rijo (Portugal), Prof. Dr. Ricardo Barroso (Portugal), Assist. Prof. Dr. Elena Predescu (Romania), Assist. Prof. Maja Drobnic Radobuljac (Slovenia), Prof. Dr. Stephen Scott (UK). Experts in four countries wished not to be mentioned in publications resulting from this project. Experts in a remaining three countries did not indicate whether they wish to be mentioned. Additionally, experts in qualitative research and psychiatric research ethics who contributed to the creation, revision and analysis of the questionnaire included: Dr. Matty Crone, Prof. Dr. Catrin Finkenauer, Prof. Dr. Gerben Meynen, Prof. Dr. Ria Reis, Jeroen de Winter (Clin. Psy.), and Anne Hendriks (PhD Candidate). work was supported by ACTION (Aggression in Children: unravelling gene-environment interplay to inform Treatment and InterventiON strategies), funded under the European Union Seventh Framework Program (FP7/2007-2013) [grant number 602768 ].

FundersFunder number
Aggression in Children
European Union Seventh Framework Program602768

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