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- PublicationThe development of children's understanding of common psychological problemsBackground: The aim of the present study was to explore children’s beliefs about the causes of psychological problems and their beliefs about potential sources of help for peers experiencing these problems. Despite its importance this is an area that has received relatively little attention from researchers. Methods: One hundred and sixteen children were read short vignettes in focus groups or individual interviews. The vignettes described the behaviour of hypothetical children with ADHD, conduct disorder and depression. Following each vignette children were asked questions about the likely causes of the behaviour and possible sources of help. A cross sectional research design was used with equal numbers of boys and girls of three age groups, the average age of the children in each group was: 8.4 years; 11.5 years and 14.3 years respectively. Results: Children of all ages were able to offer a range of explanations for the behaviour of the children described in the vignettes and these explanations varied systematically with age and the nature of the behaviour described. The majority of children believed that behaviour could change and that help to support change could be provided by family and friends. Conclusions: Results confirm and extend the findings of earlier studies that there are developmental changes in children’s understanding of some common psychological problems.
684Scopus© Citations 17
- PublicationUsing implicit measures to evaluate mental health stigma and atitudes to help-seekingAims: The paper introduces and describes the use of implicit measures of attitude in two separate studies. The aim of the first study was to explore children's and adolescents, (10 to 16 years) stigmatizing responses towards hypothetical peers with either ADHD or depression. The aim of the second was to investigate whether a brief on-line intervention could change young adults, (18 to 25 years) attitudes towards help-seeking for mental health problems. Conclusions: Implicit measures may prove to be a useful tool for researchers who are interested in stigma associated with mental health problems in young people and their treatment. Lessons learned from the use of implicit measures in these studies will be highlighted.
- PublicationChildhood interventions to reduce stigma towards peers with disabilities and chronic health conditions: a systematic reviewStigma is a problem for children with a wide range of disabilities and chronic health conditions including epilepsy, HIV/AIDS, and mental health problems (e.g. ADHD). When stigma occurs, it has particular significance for a child¿s psychological wellbeing and development. Evidence that stigmatizing attitudes develop early in life make it imperative that interventions for school-age children are developed to prevent or reduce stigma. While several interventions exist, most focus on single stigmatized conditions rather than attempting a broader focus on acceptance of peers who are different. The primary goal of the review is to present an evidence-based analysis of anti-stigma interventions. Method: Population: Children and adolescents (6-18 years). Intervention: Interventions must aim to change the study population¿s attitudes or behaviour towards individuals who are disabled or who have chronic health conditions. Search strategy: (i) Searches of: PsycINFO, CINAHL, ERIC, Medline; (ii) checking references at the end relevant articles; and (iii) using Social Science Citation Index and Google Scholar to find articles that cite key references. Conclusions: Conclusions will focus on the transfer of learning from well-developed interventions regarding health conditions, to health conditions for which few anti-stigma interventions currently exist. Age appropriateness of interventions will be a particular focus.
- PublicationUsing implicit measures to evaluate mental health stigma and attitudes to help-seekingAims: The paper introduces and describes the use of implicit measures of attitude in two separate studies. The aim of the first study was to explore children's and adolescents' (10 to 16 years) stigmatizing responses towards hypothetical peers with either ADHD or depression. The aim of the second was to investigate whether a brief on-line intervention could change young adults' (18 to 25 years) attitudes towards help-seeking for mental health problems. Methods: Implicit measures, such as the Implicit Associations Test (IAT) do not require research participants to overtly express their beliefs. They are used where there is a high risk that research participants will offer socially desirable responses about stereotypes and prejudices. In the first study, an adapted IAT, in conjunction with questionnaires, was used to measure attitudes towards a vignette describing a peer who had ADHD or depression. In the second study, the Single Category IAT was used to measure young adults' attitudes towards professional help-seeking for mental health problems. Results: The findings showed that young people were more stigmatising towards peers with mental health problems and treatment seeking on implicit compared to explicit measures. The patterns of responses between the measures highlights the value of using implicit measures to enhance our understanding of such phenomena. Conclusions: Implicit measures may prove to be a useful tool for researchers who are interested in stigma associated with mental health problems in young people and their treatment. Lessons learned from the use of implicit measures in these studies will be highlighted.
- PublicationThe use of focus group interviews in pediatric health care researchObjective: To review and synethize the research material that exists on focus groups with children and adolescents and to provide guidelines for future development. Methods: Psychlit, Medline and Cinahl electronic databases, as well as the reference lists of those papers consulted were reviewed for information regarding the running of focus groups with participants under the age of 18 years. Both empirical and methodological papers were part of this review. Results: The utility of focus groups for exploratory research, program evaluation, program development and questionnaire construction or adaptation is reviewed. Based on previous research, guidelines for running focus groups with children and adolescents are provided and suggestions for future development are outlined. Conclusions: There is evidence to suggest that focus groups are a valuable means of eliciting children’s views on health related matters given an appropriate research question. However, empirical research is required in order to investigate systematically the effect of different processes and variables on the final outcome of focus group interviews.
1095Scopus© Citations 249
- PublicationCausal information on children's attitudes and behavioural intentions toward a peer with obesityBackground: This study examined the effect of types of causal information about overweight on children's attitudes and intentions toward a peer presented as overweight. Methods: Participants (N = 176) were randomly assigned to read a vignette of an overweight peer in one of three conditions, which varied in the explanatory information provided for the aetiology of the peer's overweight condition: biological, environmental or no causal information, along with a vignette of an average-weight peer. Results: The provision of information that the overweight was the result of biological factors and of no causal information yielded more positive attitudes toward the overweight peer compared to those who were provided with environmental information. Information on overweight had no impact on behavioural intentions. A social desirability bias was found for each of the three experimental conditions and for the average weight condition. Conclusion: Information explaining overweight had a minimal positive effect on attitudes and no effect on intentions toward an overweight peer.
318Scopus© Citations 7
- PublicationFactors associated with acceptance of peers with mental health problems in childhood and adolescenceBackground: Research suggests that children’s reactions to peers with mental health problems are related to the maintenance and outcomes of these problems. However, children’s perceptions of such peers, particularly those with internalising problems, are neither well researched nor understood. The present study aimed to test a series of models relating socio-demographic and attributional variables to the acceptance of hypothetical boys and girls with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and depression. Methods: A sample of 595 participants, drawn from five different age-groups spanning early childhood to late adolescence, completed a booklet of questions in response to two vignettes describing the behaviour of hypothetical target peers with depression and ADHD. The sample was drawn from schools randomly selected in the east of Ireland. Results: The models indicated that age and gender of the participant, and the perceived responsibility of the target character for his/her condition, were the three most important predictors of acceptance in all models. However, the relationship between these variables and acceptance varied depending on the gender of the target child and the condition (depression or ADHD) in the models tested. Conclusions: The findings of the study suggest that the relationships between socio-demographic and attributional variables and acceptance of peers with mental health problems depend on the type of mental health problem under consideration. The findings have implications for the development of information and education programmes to improve the integration of children with mental health problems.
471Scopus© Citations 35
- PublicationFactors influencing the food choices of Irish children and adolescents : a qualitative investigationFood choices established during childhood and adolescence tend to persist into adulthood with consequences for long-term health. Yet, to date, relatively little research has examined factors that influence the food choices of children and adolescents from their perspectives. In this article, previous research is extended by examining developmental differences between children's and adolescents' perceptions of factors influencing their food choices. Focus group discussions were conducted with 29 young people from three age groups (9-10, 13-14 and 16-18 years). An inductive thematic analysis identified three key factors as influencing food choices. These factors included intra-individual factors: the link between food preferences and awareness of healthy eating; intra-familial factors: the role of the home food environment; and extra-familial factors: eating away from the home. Findings indicate that there were developmental differences between children's and adolescents' perceptions of factors influencing food choice. Among adolescents, parental control began to diminish and adolescents exercised increased autonomy over their food choices compared with children. To develop effective nutrition interventions, it is important to gather child and adolescent input regarding factors perceived as influencing their food choices.
973Scopus© Citations 125
- PublicationChildren's understanding of psychological problems displayed by their peers : a review of the literatureBackground There is widespread consensus in the literature that children who have psychological problems are more likely than other children to be excluded or rejected by their peers. The existence of this phenomenon has been established, primarily, with the use of research on their sociometric status within groups of peers. Much less research has been done on the way in which children develop attitudes and behavioural intentions towards peers with problems. Aims The primary aim of this article is to introduce readers to research on children's understanding of the nature of common childhood psychological problems with a view to exploring the factors that might contribute to the development of negative attitudes and behaviour. Method Relevant publications were identified through searches of electronic databases and articles in print. Results From the early years of primary school children are able to identify peers whose behaviour deviates from the norm and to suggest causes for the behaviour of peers with psychological problems. Furthermore, their beliefs about peers’ personal responsibility for these problems appear to be a significant determinant of attitudes and behavioural intentions. The article identifies the need for more research on the role of factors such as gender and personal contact in determining children’s understanding of and attitudes towards peers with psychological problems. In addition the article calls for more research on mental health education programmes and the extension of these programmes to younger children, given the fact that even young primary school children appear to have beliefs about the causes of psychological problems and negative attitudes to peers who display such problems. Conclusions Research on children’s understanding of mental health can make an important contribution to our understanding of why children with problems are so much more likely to be excluded from their peer group.
1013Scopus© Citations 37
- PublicationFocus groups versus individual interviews with children : A comparison of dataIn recent years there has been an increase in the use of qualitative data collection techniques in research with children. Among the most common of these methods are focus groups and individual interviews. While many authors claim that focus groups have advantages over individual interviews, these claims have not been tested empirically with children. The present study reports on the use of focus groups and interviews to collect qualitative data from 116 children in three age groups, with mean ages of 8.4, 11.5 and 14.3 years. The children were randomly allocated to participate in either focus groups or individual interviews where they were presented with identical material and questions relating to their beliefs about peers with psychological disorders. In line with previous research, the interviews produced significantly more relevant and unique ideas about the causes of these disorders than the focus groups, but the latter gave rise to greater elaboration of ideas. The participating children showed no significant difference in their preference for one method over the other. Thus, whether to choose individual interviews or focus groups is likely to depend on the nature of the research question in any given study.
13752Scopus© Citations 37