Medical Journal of Malaysia

MJM, Vol 70 Supplement 1 September 2015

Stability of emotional and behavioural problems among school going children in Klang Valley in Malaysia

Idayu Badilla Idris

Department of Community Health, Faculty of Medicine, UKMMC, Kuala Lumpur


Introduction: Emotional and behavioural problems (EBD) in children are highly prevalent in Western society and predict later mental health problems, substance abuse, criminal behaviour and relationship problems. There is currently no data available on the prevalence and stability of EBD in Malaysian children. The objective of this longitudinal study is to measure the stability of EBD among school going children in Klang Valley at baseline and after 6 months period.

Method: Self-administered Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaires (SDQ) which measures the Total Difficulties Scores, Emotional, Conduct, Peer Problem and Pro-Social Skills were distributed among 495 parents of 7 to 8 and 13 to 14 years of children attending 6 primary and 3 secondary schools in Petaling and Klang District in Malaysia. These questionnaires were given at baseline and again after 6 month’s period.

Results: The prevalence of EBD at baseline was found to be almost similar to the western country (UK) i.e. 8.5%. There was a high level of continuity of EBD problems across all scores between Time 1 and Time 2 (i.e. at 6 months) (p>0.005). There were also significant relationships between younger age children (p=0.014) and children’s Conduct problem at Time 1 (p=0.000) with Parent’s Total Difficulties Scores at Time 2.

Conclusion: Although the prevalence of EBD among children at baseline in this country was almost similar to other western countries, emotional and behavioural problems among these children show continuity and stability across time. Therefore there is a need to screen these problems during early childhood to facilitate early intervention for these children with such problems. This measures need to be taken in order to prevent long term consequences caused by these problems