Behaviour problems among adolescents in clinical and community settings

: from frequency to prevention

  • Sharon Allan

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Behaviour problems are the main reason for referral to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS). Understanding factors contributing to the high prevalence of behaviour problems in adolescents is paramount to inform psychological prevention programmes. Most studies separately examine the frequency/correlates of behaviour problems in either clinical or community settings using different research designs. Due to differences in clinical features of adolescents by setting, comparisons of the frequency and correlates of behaviour problems using the same research design are needed, to develop succesful interventions. This research aims to examine/compare the frequency and correlates of adolescents behaviour problems in community and clinical samples, to adapt a transdiagnostic CBT-based programme to prevent the development of mental health problems. To achieve these aims, five studies were conducted. Study 1 (N=318) compared the prevalence of behaviour problems (BP) among adolescents in community and clinical settings in South West London. Studies 2 to 3 (N=318) examined and compared the association between behaviour problems and a wide range of correlates using questionnaires (Study 2) and quasi-experimental design (Study 3, N=27). Study 4 examined the association between behaviour problems and mental health problems (N=318). Study 5 (N=112) explored the efficacy of a newly adapted transdiagnostic intervention programme. The adolescents were randomly allocated to either an intervention or wait-list control group, with assessments done: pre-post intervention and six-months after the intervention.

Results showed adolescents in the clinical compared to the community settings had higher levels of behavior problems (Study 1), and callous-unemotional traits, 19.5% (Study 2). In Studies 3 and 4, behavior problems were associated with problems in executive functioning and mental health problems, respectively. Finally, adolescents who participated in the Super Skills for Life programme showed significant reductions in mental health problems at post- and six-month follow-up intervention, these research projects have strong clinical implications.
Date of Award20 Dec 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Roehampton
SupervisorCecilia Essau (Supervisor) & Catherine Gilvarry (Supervisor)


  • Behaviour problems
  • intervention
  • transdiagnostic intervention evaluation

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