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Longitudinal Study: LSAC
Title: Addressing Child Mental Health Inequities Through Parental Mental Health and Preschool Attendance
Authors: Goldfeld, Sharon 
Monero-Betancur, Margarita
Gray, Sarah 
Guo, Shuaijun
Downes, Marnie
O'connor, Elodie
Azpitarte, Francisco 
Badland, Hannah 
Redmond, Gerry 
Williams, Katrina 
Woolfenden, Sue 
Mensah, Fiona 
O'connor, Meredith
Publication Date: 3-Apr-2023
Pages: e2022057101
Abstract: Abstract Background: Prevention is key to reducing socioeconomic inequities in children's mental health problems, especially given limited availability and accessibility of services. We investigated the potential to reduce inequities for disadvantaged children by improving parental mental health and preschool attendance in early childhood. Methods: Data from the nationally representative birth cohort, Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (N = 5107, commenced in 2004), were used to examine the impact of socioeconomic disadvantage (0-1 year) on children's mental health problems (10-11 years). Using an interventional effects approach, we estimated the extent to which inequities could be reduced by improving disadvantaged children's parental mental health (4-5 years) and their preschool attendance (4-5 years). Results: Disadvantaged children had a higher prevalence of elevated mental health symptoms (32.8%) compared with their nondisadvantaged peers (18.7%): confounder-adjusted difference in prevalence is 11.6% (95% confidence interval: 7.7% to 15.4%). Improving disadvantaged children's parental mental health and their preschool attendance to the level of their nondisadvantaged peers could reduce 6.5% and 0.3% of socioeconomic differences in children's mental health problems, respectively (equivalent to 0.8% and 0.04% absolute reductions). If these interventions were delivered in combination, a 10.8% (95% confidence interval: 6.9% to 14.7%) higher prevalence of elevated symptoms would remain for disadvantaged children. Conclusions: Targeted policy interventions that improve parental mental health and preschool attendance for disadvantaged children are potential opportunities to reduce socioeconomic inequities in children's mental health problems. Such interventions should be considered within a broader, sustained, and multipronged approach that includes addressing socioeconomic disadvantage itself.
DOI: 10.1542/peds.2022-057101
Research collection: Journal Articles
Appears in Collections:Journal Articles

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