March 30, 2015
and Parent-Teacher Agreement on Children's Mental Health Problems
have revealed important discrepancies between problems reported
for children by their parents, teachers, and the children
themselves (Achenbach et al., 1987; De Los Reyes et al., 2015).
In light of the cross-informant discrepancies, mental health
professionals understand that no single informant's reports
are sufficient for comprehensive assessment of child and youth
problems. Instead, parent, teacher, and self-reports are needed.
Most studies included in the meta-analyses were done in a
few rather similar societies. Do cross-informant discrepancies
also occur in other societies?
find out, Rescorla et al. (2013, 2014) analyzed CBCL/6-18
and YSR ratings of problems for 27,861 youths in 25 societies,
plus CBCL/6-18 and TRF ratings for 27,962 students attending
schools in 21 societies. (Rescorla al. included only those
problem items that were similar on each pair of forms, i.e.,
on the CBCL/6-18 and YSR, and on the CBCL/6-18 and TRF.) In
all societies, YSR Total Problems scores exceeded CBCL/6-18
Total Problems scores, which, in turn, exceeded TRF Total
Problems scores in every society except Thailand. Correlations
of CBCL/6-18 scores with YSR and TRF scores differed somewhat
between societies, but, averaged across all societies, the
mean correlation of .45 between CBCL/6-18 and YSR Total Problems
scores and the mean correlation of .29 between CBCL/6-18 and
TRF Total Problems scores approximated the mean correlations
found between these pairs of informants in U.S. samples (Achenbach
& Rescorla, 2001).
the cross-informant correlations be limited by tendencies
of parents, teachers, and youths to endorse different items?
To test this possibility, Rescorla et al. computed Q
correlations between the mean of the 0-1-2 ratings of each
problem item by all the parents, by all the teachers, and
by all the youths in the samples from each society. (Q
correlations measure the degree to which two sets of numbers
agree with each other, such as the means of the 0-1-2 ratings
of problem items on the CBCL/6-18 correlated with the means
of the 0-1-2 ratings of the same items on the TRF.) Averaged
across all societies, the mean Q correlation between
ratings of CBCL/6-18 and TRF items was .77. Averaged across
all societies, the mean Q correlation between ratings
of CBCL/6-18 and YSR items was .85. These large correlations
indicated that parents and teachers and also parents and youths
tended to give low, medium, or high ratings to the same items.
These findings tell us that the correlations of .29 between
CBCL/6-18 and TRF Total Problems scores and .45 between CBCL/6-18
and YSR Total Problems scores were not limited by tendencies
of parents, teachers, or youths to give low, medium, or high
ratings to different items. Instead, the discrepancies between
particular informants' ratings of particular students and
youths reflect differences in how they rated the individual
students and youths in each dyad. This was indicated by the
small mean Q correlation of .23 between item ratings
by parent-teacher dyads and .33 between parent-youth dyads.
In other words, different informants showed only modest agreement
between their ratings of a particular student or youth but
this was not because parents, teachers, or youths in general
tended to rate different items as low, medium, or high.
important finding was that cross-informant discrepancies were
much more frequent for classification of students and youths
as having clinically elevated problem scores than for classification
of students and youths as being in the normal range. This
means that multi-informant data are especially important to
obtain for students and youths who are being clinically evaluated.
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T.M., & Rescorla, L.A. (2001). Manual for the ASEBA
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of Vermont Research Center for Children, Youth, and Families.
Reyes, A., et al. (2015). The validity of the multi-informant
assessment approach to assessing child and adolescent mental
health. Psychological Bulletin, 141, 858-900.
L.A., et al. (2013). Cross-informant agreement between parent-reported
and adolescent self-reported problems in 25 societies. Journal
of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology, 42, 262-273.
L.A., et al. (2014). Parent-teacher agreement on children's
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Adolescent Psychology, 43, 627-642.