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Open Access Study protocol

Evaluation of an early detection tool for social-emotional and behavioral problems in toddlers: The Brief Infant Toddler Social and Emotional Assessment - A cluster randomized trial

Ingrid Kruizinga1, Wilma Jansen2, Alice S Carter3 and Hein Raat1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Public Health, Erasmus MC - University Medical Centre Rotterdam, PO BOX 2040, 3000 CA Rotterdam, the Netherlands

2 Public Health Service and Environs, Rotterdam, PO BOX 70032, 3000 LP Rotterdam, The Netherlands

3 Department of Psychology, University of Massachusetts Boston, 100 Morrissey Boulevard, Boston, MA 02125, USA

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BMC Public Health 2011, 11:494  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-494

Published: 24 June 2011

Abstract

Background

The prevalence of social-emotional and behavioral problems is estimated to be 8 to 9% among preschool children. Effective early detection tools are needed to promote the provision of adequate care at an early stage. The Brief Infant-Toddler Social and Emotional Assessment (BITSEA) was developed for this purpose. This study evaluates the effectiveness of the BITSEA to enhance social-emotional and behavioral health of preschool children.

Methods and Design

A cluster randomized controlled trial is set up in youth health care centers in the larger Rotterdam area in the Netherlands, to evaluate the BITSEA. The 31 youth health care centers are randomly allocated to either the control group or the intervention group. The intervention group uses the scores on the BITSEA and cut-off points to evaluate a child's social-emotional and behavioral health and to decide whether or not the child should be referred. The control group provides care as usual, which involves administering a questionnaire that structures the conversation between child health professionals and parents. At a one year follow-up measurement the social-emotional and behavioral health of all children included in the study population will be evaluated.

Discussion

It is hypothesized that better results will be found, in terms of social-emotional and behavioral health in the intervention group, compared to the control group, due to more adequate early detection, referral and more appropriate and timely care.

Trial registration

Current Controlled Trials NTR2035