Frequency of Psychological Disorders Amongst Children in Urban Areas of Tehran

By Alavi, Ali; Mohammadi, Mohammad Reza et al. | Iranian Journal of Psychiatry, Spring 2010 | Go to article overview
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Frequency of Psychological Disorders Amongst Children in Urban Areas of Tehran


Alavi, Ali, Mohammadi, Mohammad Reza, Joshaghani, Narges, Mahmoudi-Gharaei, Javad, Iranian Journal of Psychiatry


Objective: To evaluate the frequency of different psychiatric disorders among 7 to 12 years old children in urban areas of Tehran.

Method: A sample of 799 children (6 to 11 years old) were selected from 250 clusters of the entire 22 municipality areas of Tehran using a multistage sampling method from 250 clusters from the entire 22 municipality areas of Tehran. . After responding to a Persian version of the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) parent-report form, the Persian version of Kiddie Schedule for Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia - Present and Lifetime (K-SADS-PL) was administered to 241 children and their families. The frequency of child psychological disorders was determined using the results of K-SADS-PL.

Results: The overall frequency of any psychological disorders in the sample of children was 17.9 percent. Among the interviewed children childrenwho were interviewed, the most prevalent diagnoses were Attention- Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) (8.6 percent)8.6%, Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) (7.3 percent)7.3%, and separation anxiety disorder (SAD) (5.9 percent)5.9%. There were not any statistically significant differences between sexes in the frequency of psychological disorders except enuresis that was more frequent in the boys and anorexia nervosa that was observed more frequently in the girls .

Conclusion: Higher frequency of ADHD and ODD and SAD among the studied children warrantswarrants more specific evaluation of frequency and possible causes of these high frequency rates. The frequency of psychological disorders in the studied children was comparable to the that of other studies.

Keywords: Children, Epidemiology, Mental disorders, Urban population

Iran J Psychiatry 2010; 5:2:55-59

Psychological community studies are helpful in evaluating the socio-demographic correlates of mental disorders in a given community (1). Social, Cultural, political, and economical changes may influence physical and mental health of children and adolescents (2). On the other hand, the psychological disorders are relatively costly (3). Although psychological disorders were known for centuries, it was only at the recent decades that statistical methods were used to determine their exact frequencies (4).

Studies about frequency of child and adolescent psychological disorders in different parts of the world are very different and diverse. For example, a review about frequency of behavioral and emotional problems in developing countries showed that frequency of child psychological disorders in large cities is 10 to 20 percent that is equal to those of developed countries (5). In four studies in India, Columbia, Philippines, and Sudan, the frequency of psychological disorders

reported to be 12 to 29 percent (6). In the other words, as Fleitlich-Bilyk and Goodman noted in their study in Brazil, at least one in 8 school aged children have major psychological disorders that cause distress or social impairment (7). Abou-Saleh, Ghubash, and Daradkeh, in a study at 2001 reported that the frequency of ICD-10 psychological disorders at Al- Ain, United Arab Emirates, is equal to 8.2 percent (8). These frequencies in Nigeria were about 15 percent , and the most frequent disorders included those with emotional and conduct problems (9). In a study conducted in the United States, it has been reported that 5 percent of 7 to 14 year- old children had significant behavioral or emotional disorders that had impact on their functioning, learning, friendship, family life and leisure activities (10). In a study from Norway, it was reported that one third of the children had minor perceived problems and about 5 percent had definite or severe disorders (11).

Iran as a developing country is undergoing significant social, cultural, and economic changes that can influence its populations' mental health status. According to recent surveys, Iran has a population of about 70 million; more than 20 percent of which is below 20 years of age; and some of them suffer from psychological disorders and need mental health services.

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