Informant Discrepancies in Internalizing and Externalizing Symptoms in an At-Risk Sample: The Role of Parenting and School Engagement

Alexa L. Curhan, Jill Rabinowitz, Elise Touris Pas, Catherine P. Bradshaw

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

A number of studies have used variable-centered approaches to examine informant discrepancies on children’s behavior problems; however, few such studies have used person-centered approaches to explore patterns of informant discrepancies or correlates of discrepancies in informant symptom ratings. The present study addressed these gaps by examining profiles of informant agreement on internalizing and externalizing symptoms and examining whether two important contextual factors, parenting and school engagement, are associated with profile membership. Data from an at-risk, urban sample of youth participants (N= 346, M age = 12.47 ± 0.60 years, 56% male, and 75% Black), their caregivers, and one of their teachers were analyzed in the current study. Youth from 20 schools in a Mid-Atlantic state were screened for elevated levels of aggression and were selected to participate in the Early Adolescent Coping Power study. At baseline, youth, caregivers, and teachers reported on youth’s internalizing symptoms and caregivers and teachers reported on youth’s externalizing symptoms. Caregivers reported on their parenting; youth reported on their school engagement. Two internalizing symptoms profiles were identified: Low Symptoms Agreement and Youth-Reported High Somatization and Anxiety. Three externalizing symptoms profiles were identified: Low Symptoms Agreement, Teacher-Reported High Externalizing, and Caregiver-Reported High Externalizing. These profiles differed significantly on parenting behaviors and school engagement, shedding light on factors that may underlie informant discrepancies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Youth and Adolescence
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2019

Keywords

  • Externalizing symptoms
  • Internalizing symptoms
  • Multiple informants
  • Parenting
  • Person-centered approach
  • School engagement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)

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