SCREENING FOR MENTAL HEALTH PROBLEMS IN PRESCHOOLERS AT PRIMARY HEALTH CARE SETTINGS
ABSTRACT Objective: To study the applicability of the Strength and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ 2,4-p) as a screening tool for mental health problems in preschoolers, in the context of Primary Health Care; to evaluate the mental health problems of the sample, comparing data from SDQ (2,4-p) and from the Child Behavior Check List (CBCL 1½-5 years). Methods: Cross-sectional observational study with a convenience sample of 31-50-month-old children, whose caretakers provided informational reports. In the first stage, professionals from the primary care health unit have applied the SDQ (2,4-p) during routine appointments. Subsequently, the CBCL (1½-5) was applied by a professional experienced in infant mental health. The SDQ and CBCL results were compared and the correlation between the scales was tested. Results: Among 280 questionnaires available to the health professionals, 48 were filled out and the CBCL was applied to 40 of the participants. Among the problems found with the SDQ, 18 cases (37.6% out of 48) have shown abnormal score in the “Total Difficulties” and 38 (80.9% out of 48) have shown normal score in the “Impact of Difficulty”. Behavioral issues were highlighted by the percentage of abnormal scores (47.9%). The correlation between SQD and CBCL was positive for all scales, except for the pro-social behavior. Conclusions: Clinically important mental health problems were found in preschool children. Variables of the SDQ discriminate normal and abnormal scores according to the CBCL parameters, thus functioning as a good screening tool.