Help-seeking process of parents for psychopathology in youths with moderate to borderline intellectual disabilities

J.C.H. Douma, M.C. Dekker, K.P. de Ruiter, F.C. Verhulst, H.M. Koot

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


OBJECTIVE: To study the help-seeking process of parents for emotional or behavioral problems in their child with borderline to moderate intellectual disabilities. METHOD: In 2003, in a special education-based sample of 522 youths (ages 10-18years, response = 77.9%), we studied the parents' perception of their child's problems, their subsequent felt need for professional help, actual help-seeking, and the factors possibly related to taking these steps. RESULTS: Even when parents indicated their child's emotional or behavioral functioning as "neither good nor bad," in about 70%, these problems were present according to standardized measures. Of the 213 parents (40.8%) who perceived problems, 70.6% felt a need, and 55.2% of these parents subsequently sought professional help. Parents more often sought help when their child had problems of anxiety and depression, experienced negative life events, and when parents perceived child psychopathology before the past year. Reported barriers to seeking help predominantly related to parents' evaluation of the severity of these problems and wanting to solve the problems themselves. CONCLUSIONS: Clinicians and other service providers should address parents' concerns regarding their child's emotional/behavioral functioning and treatment seeking. Also, they should provide information on treatment options and on signs and potential negative prospects of their child's problems. ©2006 by the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1232-1242
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2006


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