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The Epidemiology of Behavior Disorders in Children

Am J Dis Child. 1966;111(6):594-599. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1966.02090090066004.
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A COMPARATIVE review of research into children's behavior disorders brings into sharp focus the major problems in such studies. Variability in the definitions and methods used by different investigators makes it difficult to select the more valid findings among the discrepant data reported.

An aspect of the dilemma is illustrated by Goldfarb's study1 of the relative ability of school teachers and psychiatrists to identify psychiatric cases among school children. He found that these two professional groups disagreed on the identification of specific children with mental health problems and concluded that the teachers required further training to increase their sensitivity to psychiatric cases. The assumption that the correct definition of a psychiatric case is a secure part of the psychiatrist's armamentarium is open to question when psychiatric diagnosis still lacks the means for objective validation. Far more than in other medical fields, psychiatric diagnosis is known to vary with the


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