Internalizing Symptoms Among Youth in Foster Care: Prevalence and Associations with Exposure to Maltreatment
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionChild Psychiatry and Human Development. 10.1007/s10578-020-01118-x
Among youth in foster care (N = 303, aged 11–17 years), we investigated prevalence of internalizing symptoms; associations between symptom level and maltreatment types and numbers; and the interaction between gender and maltreatment, on internalizing symptoms. Youth completed Spence Children Anxiety Scale, Short Mood Feelings Questionnaire, and Child and Adolescent Trauma Screen. Compared to community samples, symptom levels above clinical cut-off was more frequent, with social- and generalized anxiety (ES = 0.78–0.88) being most prevalent among youth in foster care. Girls reported more internalizing symptoms (ES = 0.59–0.93). Sexual abuse and neglect were associated with a broader range of internalizing symptoms (ES = 0.35–0.64). Increased incidence of maltreatment was associated with increased levels of symptoms (ES = 0.21–0.22). Associations between maltreatment and symptom level were stronger for girls. This study stresses the importance of broad screening of maltreatment and internalizing symptoms to meet the needs of youth in foster care.