Preventing internalising problems in preschoolers with chronic physical health conditions

Amy Brown, Kate Noone, Ronald M. Rapee, Maria Kangas, Vicki Anderson, Jordana K. Bayer*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This pilot study aimed to explore the suitability of a preventative intervention for internalising problems in young children with chronic physical health conditions. The pilot study focused on a subsample of 27 children with chronic physical health conditions within a population-level randomised controlled trial of the Cool Little Kids parenting programme. The Cool Little Kids parenting programme aims to prevent the development of internalising problems in inhibited (shy/anxious) preschool children by educating parents to reduce young children’s avoidant coping styles and manage their anxiety/distress. The wider trial recruited 545 temperamentally inhibited preschool children. Measures included child health/development concerns and internalising symptoms at baseline, feedback on Cool Little Kids post-intervention and child internalising problems at one- and two-year longitudinal follow-up. At baseline, inhibited children with and without chronic physical health conditions had levels of internalising symptoms above the normative mean. At post-intervention, parents of children with chronic physical health conditions gave feedback that Cool Little Kids was helpful for managing their child’s emotional distress. At follow-up, significantly fewer intervention than control children with chronic physical health conditions had specific phobia after 1 year (25% vs 70%) and specific fear symptoms after 2 years (mean 9.57 vs 16.89). As the pilot findings are promising, a further trial of Cool Little Kids in a physical health treatment service with a larger sample of children with chronic physical illness diagnoses would be worthwhile.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Child Health Care
Early online date29 Apr 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 29 Apr 2021

Keywords

  • child
  • preschool
  • chronic physical illness
  • anxiety disorders
  • internalising problems
  • prevention
  • early intervention

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