Validation of the Diagnostic Infant and Preschool Assessment in a Danish, Trauma-Exposed Sample of Young Children

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Abstract

Background: There exist only few developmentally sensitive assessment instruments for identifying posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other potentially comorbid affective and behavioral symptomatology in preschool children. Consequently, young children who exhibit post-trauma symptomatology risk not being identified and not receiving the appropriate treatment. One of the few instruments that exist is the Diagnostic Infant and Preschool Assessment (DIPA).

Objective: To examine internal reliability and convergent validity of the Danish version of the DIPA, a semi-structured interview of caregivers about their child's mental health.

Method: In total, 62 caregivers of trauma-exposed children aged 1-6 years were interviewed with the DIPA and completed the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ).

Results: The children had experienced between one and eight traumas (Mdn = 3). Based on the DIPA, 48.4% of the children exhibited PTSD. The DIPA showed good to excellent internal consistency for the disorders of major depressive disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, separation anxiety disorder and overall internal consistency of PTSD and reactive attachment disorder. Internal consistency was lower for each symptom cluster of PTSD and the overall consistency of sleep disorder with Cronbach's alpha ranging between 0.54 and 0.69. Correlations between continuous scores of eight disorders of the DIPA and SDQ scales provided support for convergent validity of the DIPA.

Conclusion: The study provides preliminary evidence to support the Danish version of DIPA as a valid measure of symptoms of young children exposed to psychological trauma. As a standardized assessment tool, the DIPA can aid in early and structured assessment of young children exposed to trauma and can help guide treatment for those in need.

Original languageEnglish
JournalScandinavian Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Psychology
Volume7
Pages (from-to)39-51
ISSN2245-8875
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019

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