The Relationship Between Unmet Basic Needs and Psychiatric Symptoms in School Age Children

We conducted a cross-sectional study through the BMC primary care pediatric clinic, measuring the association between cumulative and individual adverse social determinants of health (SDoH) and psychiatric symptoms in school age children. Psychiatric symptoms were measured using the Pediatric Symptom Checklist-17 (PSC-17)1 and adverse SDoH were measured using WE CARE (Well Child Care, Evaluation, Community Resources, Advocacy, Referral, Education),2 which assesses 6 unmet basic needs, both administered at well visits for children age 6-11 from September 1, 2016 to August 31, 2017. Findings suggest that children with food insecurity or at least 3 unmet basic needs had over twice the rate of positive psychiatric screens as their peers. Attention and internalizing problems were more strongly associated with unmet needs than externalizing problems.

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  1. Gardner W, Murphy M, Childs G, et al. The PSC-17: A brief pediatric symptom checklist with psychosocial problem subscales. A report from PROS and ASPN. Ambul Child Health. 1999;5(3):225-236.
  2. Garg A, Butz AM, Dworkin PH, Lewis RA, Thompson RE, Serwint JR. Improving the management of family psychosocial problems at low-income children’s well-child care visits: the WE CARE Project. Pediatrics. 2007;120(3):547-558. doi:10.1542/peds.2007-0398