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Assessment of children with learning and behavioural problems: Comparison of a multidisciplinary and sole paediatrician model

Authors

  • Riju Mittal,

    1. Centre for Community Child Health, Royal Children's Hospital, Parkville, Victoria, Australia
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  • Emma Sciberras,

    Corresponding author
    1. Centre for Community Child Health, Royal Children's Hospital, Parkville, Victoria, Australia
    2. Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, Parkville, Victoria, Australia
    • Correspondence: Dr Emma Sciberras, Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, Royal Children's Hospital, Flemington Road, Parkville, Vic. 3052, Australia. Fax: +61 3 9345 5900; email: emma.sciberras@mcri.edu.au

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  • Jill Sewell,

    1. Centre for Community Child Health, Royal Children's Hospital, Parkville, Victoria, Australia
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  • Daryl Efron

    1. Centre for Community Child Health, Royal Children's Hospital, Parkville, Victoria, Australia
    2. Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, Parkville, Victoria, Australia
    3. Department of Paediatrics, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria, Australia
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  • Conflict of interest: The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest to disclose.

Abstract

Aims

This study aimed to compare multidisciplinary (MD) versus sole paediatrician (SP) assessment models for children with learning and/or behaviour difficulties.

Methods

Children aged 4–12 years referred for an MD or SP assessment of learning and/or behavioural concerns were invited to participate. At baseline, parents completed surveys assessing child behaviour (Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire; SDQ) and quality of life (QoL) (Pediatric Quality of Life Inventory 4.0; PedsQL). Following the assessment, parents completed a survey evaluating their satisfaction with the assessment. Parents completed a survey at 3–4 months post-assessment assessing: (i) adherence to recommendations; (ii) perceived changes in child functioning; and (iii) child QoL and behaviour.

Results

The parents of 66 children (82% male) participated in the study. Parents reported satisfaction with both assessment models; however, parents in the MD group reported better understanding of their child's difficulties than the SP group (P = 0.03). Parents in the MD group were less likely to report that ‘recommendations were useful and practical’ compared with the SP group (P = 0.01). There was no significant change in child behaviour or QoL in either group from baseline to 3–4 months post-assessment.

Conclusions

Parents attending both clinics were satisfied with the assessment process. MD assessment of children with suspected learning and/or behavioural concerns appears to have the additional benefit of helping families to better understand their child's difficulties. Fewer families attending MD clinics reported that recommendations were useful and practical compared with the SP model.

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