Publications by authors named "Alisha Gulenc"

19 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Neural correlates of irritability in a community sample of children.

J Affect Disord 2021 Sep 5;292:223-226. Epub 2021 Jun 5.

Murdoch Children's Research Institute, Melbourne, Australia; Department of Paediatrics, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia; School of Psychology, Deakin University, Geelong, Australia.

Irritability has been associated with aberrant patterns of neural activation, yet little is known about structural brain correlates of irritability. As such, we aimed to investigate associations between irritability and gray matter volume (GMV) in a community sample of children enriched for irritability. The sample comprised children (n=162) aged 9-11 years with and without Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), participating in a cohort study with magnetic resonance imaging data available. Mixed effects linear regression analyses tested the associations between irritability symptoms and regional GMV (extracted using Freesurfer). Irritability was associated with smaller gray matter volume across multiple brain regions implicated in executive functioning, and emotion and reward processing including frontal regions and the cingulate.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jad.2021.05.093DOI Listing
September 2021

ADHD at Age 7 and Functional Impairments at Age 10.

Pediatrics 2020 11 6;146(5). Epub 2020 Oct 6.

Murdoch Children's Research Institute, Parkville, Victoria, Australia.

Background And Objectives: Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) cohort studies have typically involved clinical samples and have usually recruited children across wide age ranges, limiting generalizability across complexity and developmental stage. We compared academic, emotional-behavioral and social functioning at age 10, and predictors of outcomes, in a nonreferred cohort of children recruited at age 7, between those with full-syndrome (FS) ADHD and controls with no ADHD.

Methods: This was a prospective cohort study with a 3-year follow-up period. Children were recruited from 43 socioeconomically diverse schools in Melbourne, Australia. Multi-informant outcomes at age 10 were academic functioning (Wide Range Achievement Test 4; Social Skills Improvement System), emotional-behavioral functioning (Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire total), and social functioning (Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire peer problems). Outcomes were compared across the groups by using adjusted random-effects linear regression analyses.

Results: In total, 477 children (62% male) were recruited at a mean (SD) age of 7.3 years (0.4). There were 179 participants with FS ADHD, 86 with ST ADHD, and 212 controls. Sample retention was 78.2% at 3-year follow-up. Both the FS and ST groups were functioning worse than controls on almost all outcome measures. The best predictors of outcome for children with ADHD were working memory (academic outcome, < .001), ADHD symptom severity (emotional-behavioral outcome, parent: < .001; teacher: < .01), and autism spectrum disorder symptoms (emotional-behavioral outcome, parent = .003; social outcome, parent = .001).

Conclusions: Children with FS and ST ADHD at age 7 experience persisting functional impairments across domains at age 10. The predictors identified at age 7 present potential targets for intervention to ameliorate impairments.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1542/peds.2020-1061DOI Listing
November 2020

Persistence of disruptive mood dysregulation disorder in children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.

J Affect Disord 2021 01 28;278:502-505. Epub 2020 Sep 28.

Murdoch Children's Research Institute, Melbourne, Australia; Department of Paediatrics, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia; School of Psychology, Deakin University, Geelong, Australia.

Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder (DMDD) is common in children with ADHD yet it is not known how persistent DMDD is in this population. As such we aimed to investigate the persistence of disruptive mood dysregulation disorder (DMDD) in a community sample of children with ADHD. The sample comprised children (n = 136) participating in a cohort study with data available at age 7 and age 10. DMDD status was ascertained using proxy items from the Diagnostic Interview Schedule for Children, Version IV. Of those with DMDD at age 7 (n = 30), eight (21.1%) had DMDD that persisted at age 10. In the first study investigating the longitudinal course of DMDD in ADHD one in five children with ADHD+DMDD at age 7 continued to meet diagnostic criteria for DMDD three years later.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jad.2020.09.109DOI Listing
January 2021

Longitudinal patterns of white matter fibre density and morphology in children are associated with age and pubertal stage.

Dev Cogn Neurosci 2020 10 28;45:100853. Epub 2020 Aug 28.

Developmental Imaging, Murdoch Children's Research Institute, Parkville, Australia; Department of Paediatrics, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Australia.

The pubertal period involves dynamic white matter development. This period also corresponds with rapid gains in higher cognitive functions including attention, as well as increased risk of developing mental health difficulties. This longitudinal study comprised children aged 9-13 years (n = 130). Diffusion magnetic resonance imaging (dMRI) data were acquired (b = 2800s/mm, 60 directions) at two time-points. We derived measures of fibre density and morphology using the fixel-based analysis framework and performed a tract-based mixed-effects modelling analysis to understand patterns of white matter development with respect to age, sex, pubertal stage, and the change in pubertal stage. We observed significant increases in apparent fibre density across a large number of white matter pathways, including major association and commissural pathways. We observed a linear relationship between pubertal stage and fibre density and morphology in the right superior longitudinal fasciculus, and fibre morphology in the right inferior longitudinal fasciculus. Finally, we report a significant interaction between the change in pubertal stage and age in the development of fibre density, for left-lateralised association tracts. Overall, white matter development across ages 9-13 years involves the expansion of major white matter fibre pathways, with key association pathways linked with pubertal stage.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.dcn.2020.100853DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7498759PMC
October 2020

Assessment and management of tic disorders and Tourette syndrome by Australian paediatricians.

J Paediatr Child Health 2020 Jan 17;56(1):136-141. Epub 2019 Jun 17.

Murdoch Children's Research Institute, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

Aim: The diagnosis and management of tic disorders and Tourette syndrome (TS) can be challenging. A better understanding of current approaches by paediatricians is important to inform research and education to improve patient outcomes. We aimed to investigate current assessment and management practices for tics/TS by Australian paediatricians.

Methods: An online survey was sent to members of the Australian Paediatric Research Network. Primary outcomes of interest included assessment processes, referrals, behavioural interventions and pharmacological management. Four scenarios were presented to elicit information regarding treatment of different types of cases.

Results: Of 340 eligible paediatricians, 139 (41%) responded, with 116 (84%) reporting that they diagnose and manage tics/TS as part of their practice. Questionnaires were used more to identify comorbidities (43%) than to quantify tics (12%). Referrals were most likely to be made to psychologists. Medication was considered important in the management of TS by 45% of respondents, with clonidine identified as the first-choice medication by 69%. There was wide variation in both the pharmacological and behavioural management strategies reported.

Conclusions: There is substantial practice variation among Australian paediatricians in the assessment and management of patients referred with tics/TS. This may reflect insufficient evidence regarding best practice, as well as limited training in this area. There is a need for improved education of Australian paediatricians in the assessment and management of tics/TS, as well as further research to identify optimal treatments.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/jpc.14541DOI Listing
January 2020

Prevalence and Predictors of Medication Use in Children with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: Evidence from a Community-Based Longitudinal Study.

J Child Adolesc Psychopharmacol 2019 02 1;29(1):50-57. Epub 2018 Dec 1.

3 Department of Health Services, Murdoch Children's Research Institute, Parkville, Australia.

Objectives: To determine, in a community-based sample of primary school-aged children meeting diagnostic criteria for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), (1) the proportion of children with ADHD treated with medication; (2) predictors of medication use; and (3) the association between medication use and psychological service utilization.

Methods: Grade 1 children with ADHD were recruited through 43 schools in Melbourne, Australia, using a two-stage screening and case confirmation procedure. Parent report of medication treatment, clinician diagnosis, and psychological service use were collected at ages 7 and 10 years. Medication use was analyzed by ADHD subtype. Predictors of medication treatment examined included ADHD symptom severity and persistence, externalizing comorbidities, poor academic performance, and social disadvantage. Unadjusted and adjusted logistic regression were used to identify the predictors of medication status.

Results: One hundred seventy-nine children with ADHD were recruited. At baseline, 17.3% had been clinically diagnosed with ADHD, increasing to 37.7% at age 10 years. At baseline, 13.6% were taking ADHD medications, increasing to 25.6% at age 10. Children with the combined and hyperactive-impulsive subtypes were more likely to be taking medication than those with inattentive subtype (age 7: p = 0.002; age 10: p = 0.03). ADHD symptom severity (Conners 3 ADHD Index) at baseline was concurrently and prospectively associated with medication use at both ages (both p = 0.01), and ADHD symptom severity at age 10 was also associated with medication use at age 10 (p = 0.01). Baseline area-level disadvantage was associated with medication use at age 7 (p = 0.04). At 10 years, children receiving medication were more likely, compared with those who were not, to be receiving psychological services (p = 0.001).

Conclusions: In this study, only a minority of children meeting diagnostic criteria for ADHD were diagnosed clinically or treated with ADHD medication by age 10. The strongest predictors of medication treatment were ADHD symptom severity and area disadvantage.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1089/cap.2018.0095DOI Listing
February 2019

Paternal psychological distress, parenting, and child behaviour: A population based, cross-sectional study.

Child Care Health Dev 2018 11 29;44(6):892-900. Epub 2018 Aug 29.

Centre for Community Child Health, The Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne, VIC, Australia.

Background: Child behaviour problems are common and can lead to later mental health problems. Poor maternal mental health and adverse parenting practices are known risk factors for child behaviour problems. Less is known about the association between paternal mental health and parenting, and child behaviour. We aimed to explore the association between paternal psychological distress and parenting (harsh discipline, low warmth, unreasonable expectations, and overinvolved/protectiveness) with children's internalising and externalising behaviour at 3 years of age.

Methods: Cross-sectional surveys of 669 (80% response) fathers of 3-year-old children, nested within a randomised controlled trial. Main outcomes of behaviour (Child Behavior Checklist), parenting (Parent Behavior Checklist and overinvolved/protective parenting scale), and psychological distress (Kessler-6) were measured. Regression modelling examined the associations between paternal factors and child behaviour, adjusting for maternal mental health and parenting, as well as child and family variables.

Results: In adjusted analyses, paternal psychological distress (b = 0.43, 95% confidence interval [CI] [0.26-0.60], p < 0.001), harsh discipline (b = 0.20, 95% CI [0.13-0.27], p < 0.001), and maternal mental health (b = 0.08, 95% CI [0.03-0.12], p = 0.001) were associated with externalising symptoms. However, only paternal psychological distress, harsh discipline, and being a boy were associated with borderline/clinical levels of externalising problems (all p < 0.05). Paternal psychological distress, harsh discipline, overinvolved parenting, maternal mental health, and difficult child temperament were associated with internalising symptoms (all p < 0.05). However, only paternal harsh discipline and overinvolved parenting were associated with borderline/clinical internalising problems.

Conclusions: Paternal mental health and parenting are independently associated with child behaviour. Treatments for children with behavioural problems should also address paternal mental health and parenting.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/cch.12607DOI Listing
November 2018

Trends in Prevalence and Management of Childhood Anxiety by Australian Pediatricians.

Acad Pediatr 2019 Jan - Feb;19(1):35-43. Epub 2018 Aug 9.

Department of General Medicine (M Danchin, D Efron, and H Hiscock); Centre for Community Child Health (A Gulenc, D Efron, and C Symeonides), The Royal Children's Hospital; Murdoch Children's Research Institute (M Danchin, A Gulenc, D Efron, E Sciberras, C Symeonides, and H Hiscock); Department of Paediatrics (M Danchin, D Efron, C Symeonides, and H Hiscock), The University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria, Australia.

Objective: Rising anxiety rates and equity of care are ongoing concerns. Through 2 pediatric practice audits conducted 5 years apart, we aimed to determine the change in 1) anxiety diagnoses; 2) associated comorbid diagnoses; 3) variance in management by location; and 4) child, family, and pediatrician predictors of management.

Methods: Members of the Australian Paediatric Research Network (APRN) were invited to participate in patient-level prospective national pediatric practice audits in 2008 and 2013. Pediatricians were asked to complete standardized forms for 100 consecutive patients or all patients seen over 2 weeks, whichever was completed first. Demographic data, diagnoses, medications, and referrals were collected. Logistic regressions were conducted, clustered at the pediatrician level.

Results: Of eligible APRN pediatricians in 2013 and 2008, 48% and 66% participated and contributed 7102 and 8345 consultations, respectively. Anxiety diagnoses increased over the 5-year period (4.4% vs 7.6%; P < .001), as did proportions with comorbid autism spectrum disorder (18.4% vs 29.5%; P < .001) and sleep problems (5.1% vs 9.5%; P = .02). There was an increase in the prescription of core anxiety medications, with prescription of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors increasing from 2.0% to 27.7% (P = .01). Children were more likely to be referred to a psychologist if they were seen in metropolitan practices (odds ratio = 2.0; 95% confidence interval, 1.1-3.9; P = .03) or had learning difficulties (odds ratio = 2.1; 95% confidence interval, 1.1-3.9; P = .03).

Conclusions: Prevalence of anxiety among children and adolescents attending pediatricians nearly doubled over the 5-year period. Children in regional and remote locations are less likely to be referred to psychological services, prompting concerns about inequity in access to care.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.acap.2018.08.001DOI Listing
February 2020

Inequity in Access to Paediatric Care for Developmental and Behavioural Versus Medical Problems in Australia: A National Survey.

J Paediatr Child Health 2018 Jun;54(6):705-706

Child Health Evaluation and Research Unit, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, United States.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/jpc.14058DOI Listing
June 2018

Maternal ADHD symptoms, child ADHD symptoms and broader child outcomes.

Arch Dis Child 2018 09 9;103(9):841-846. Epub 2018 Jan 9.

Community Child Health, Murdoch Children's Research Institute, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

Objective: This study investigated the associations between maternal symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and child functional outcomes in a community-based sample of children with and without ADHD.

Design And Setting: In this cohort study, children with ADHD and healthy controls were recruited through schools in Melbourne, Australia, using a combined screening (Conners 3 ADHD Index) and case confirmation (Diagnostic Interview Schedule for Children Version IV) procedure.

Patients: 117 children with ADHD and 149 control children were included in the analyses.

Main Outcome Measures: Maternal ADHD symptoms (Conners Adult ADHD Rating Scale) and child outcomes (ADHD severity, quality of life (QoL), academic competence, social-emotional functioning) were measured at a mean child age of 8.9 years.

Results: Mothers of children with ADHD had clinically elevated ADHD symptoms compared with mothers of control children (adjusted analysis: 18.0% vs 2.0%, P0.001). Elevated maternal ADHD symptoms were associated with greater child ADHD symptom severity and lower QoL by maternal report for children with (severity P0.01; QoL P0.003) and without (severity P0.003; QoL P0.003) ADHD. Elevated maternal ADHD symptoms were additionally associated with increased parent-rated emotional problems, peer problems and total impairment scores in children without ADHD (all P<0.01).

Conclusions: Maternal ADHD symptoms are associated with increased ADHD symptom severity and reduced QoL by maternal report in offspring with or without ADHD, and have broader negative associations with emotional and social functioning in children without ADHD. In the evaluation of the referred children, maternal ADHD symptoms should be considered and referral made to adult services where indicated.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/archdischild-2017-313936DOI Listing
September 2018

Chronic tic disorders in children with ADHD.

Arch Dis Child 2018 09 9;103(9):847-852. Epub 2018 Jan 9.

Department of Paediatrics, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

Objective: To examine in a community-based cohort: (1) the prevalence of chronic tic disorder (CTD) in children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) compared with non-ADHD controls at ages 7 and 10; and (2) the additional psychiatric and functional burden of CTD in children with ADHD.

Methods: Children aged 6-8 years with ADHD (n=179) and controls (n=212) were recruited through 43 Victorian schools using parent and teacher screening surveys (Conners 3 ADHD Index), followed by case confirmation (Diagnostic Interview Schedule for Children-IV (DISC-IV)). CTD was identified using the DISC-IV categories chronic motor tic disorder, chronic vocal tic disorder or Tourette syndrome at baseline and 36-month follow-up. Internalising and externalising disorders, social functioning, academic performance and quality of life were also measured. Tests of proportions and independent t-tests were used to compare the ADHD+CTD group with sex-matched ADHD alone children.

Results: Compared with controls, children with ADHD were 4.1 (95% CI 1.1 to 14.1) times more likely to have CTD at age 7, and 5.9 (95% CI 1.6 to 17.9) times more likely at age 10. Children with ADHD+CTD experienced higher rates of internalising disorders and peer problems, and poorer quality of life than those with ADHD alone.

Conclusions: CTD prevalence is higher in children with ADHD compared with controls, and confers substantial additional psychiatric and functional burden. Clinicians need to consider CTD in both the initial assessment and ongoing management of children with ADHD, and address both the symptoms and the associated impairments.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/archdischild-2017-314139DOI Listing
September 2018

Preventing Preschool Mental Health Problems: Population-Based Cluster Randomized Controlled Trial.

J Dev Behav Pediatr 2018 01;39(1):55-65

Department of Paediatrics, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC, Australia.

Objective: Prevention of child behavior problems may reduce later mental health problems. We compared the effectiveness, at the population level, of an efficacious targeted prevention program alone or following a universal parenting program.

Methods: Three-arm, cluster randomized controlled trial. One thousand three hundred fifty-three primary caregivers and healthy 8-month-old babies recruited from July 2010 to January 2011 from well-child centers (randomization unit).

Primary Outcome: Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) externalizing and internalizing scales* at child ages 3 and 4.5 years.

Secondary Outcomes: Parenting Behavior Checklist* and over-involved/protective parenting (primary caregiver report). Secondary caregivers completed starred measures at age 3.

Results: Retention was 76% and 77% at ages 3 and 4.5 years, respectively. At 3 years, intention-to-treat analyses found no statistically significant differences (adjusted mean difference [95% confidence interval (CI); p-value]) for externalizing (targeted vs usual care -0.2 [-1.7 to 1.2; p = .76]; combined vs usual care 0.4 [-1.1 to 1.9; p = .60]) or internalizing behavior problems (targeted vs usual care 0.2 [-1.2 to 1.6; p = .76]; combined vs usual care 0.4 [-1.1 to 2.0; p = .58]). Primary outcomes were similar at 4.5 years. At 3 years, primary and secondary caregivers reported less over-involved/protective parenting in both the combined and targeted versus usual care arm; secondary caregivers also reported less harsh discipline in the combined and targeted versus usual care arm. Mean program costs per family were A$218 (targeted arm) and A$682 (combined arm).

Conclusion: When translated to the population level by existing staff, pre-existing programs seemed ineffective in improving child behavior, alone or in combination, but improved parenting.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/DBP.0000000000000502DOI Listing
January 2018

Influence of birth month on the probability of Western Australian children being treated for ADHD.

Med J Aust 2017 09;207(6):268

Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, Melbourne, VIC.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.5694/mja17.00134DOI Listing
September 2017

Medication prescribed by Australian paediatricians: Psychotropics predominate.

J Paediatr Child Health 2017 Oct 30;53(10):957-962. Epub 2017 Jun 30.

Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

Aim: The aims of this study were to examine: (i) medications prescribed by Australian general and community paediatricians, (ii) predictors of prescribing (child age, gender) and (iii) changes in medication prescription between 2008 and 2013.

Methods: Two patient-level practice national audits were conducted by the Australian Paediatric Research Network in 2008 and 2013. General and community paediatricians in outpatient clinics and private practices recorded demographic data, diagnoses and medications prescribed for all patients seen over a 2-week period.

Results: In 2008, 199 paediatricians submitted data on 8345 consultations, and in 2013, 180 paediatricians submitted data on 7102 consultations. The most frequently prescribed drug class was psychotropics, prescribed for 46.8% of patients with developmental-behavioural/mental health (DB/MH) diagnoses in 2008 and 49.8% in 2013 (P = 0.015). Within this class, in 2013, the stimulants were prescribed in 35.3% of DB/MH consultations, antidepressants in 7.8% and antipsychotics in 5.6%. The next most frequently prescribed drug classes were laxatives (4.6% of all consultations in 2013), asthma preventers (4.1%), melatonin (3.7%), asthma relievers (2.6%) and proton-pump inhibitors (2.2%), topical corticosteroids (1.8%) and antihistamines (1.4%). Medication prescription was predicted by patient age (P < 0.001, both audits) and male gender (P < 0.01, both audits) but not by measured prescriber variables. The rates of prescribing of psychotropics, melatonin, laxatives and enuresis medications increased between 2008 and 2013.

Conclusions: Australian paediatricians prescribe mostly psychotropic medications, and the amount prescribed appears to be increasing. Paediatricians need good training and professional development in mental health diagnosis and management and the rational prescribing of psychotropic medications.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/jpc.13615DOI Listing
October 2017

Tackling the big questions: What research matters to Australian paediatricians?

J Paediatr Child Health 2017 04;53(4):427-428

The Centre for Community Child Health, The Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/jpc.13453DOI Listing
April 2017

Utility-based quality of life in mothers of children with behaviour problems: A population-based study.

J Paediatr Child Health 2016 Dec 6;52(12):1075-1080. Epub 2016 Sep 6.

Centre for Community Child Health, The Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

Aim: To examine the relationship between mothers' health-related quality of life (HRQoL) and child behaviour problems at age 2 years. To investigate whether the relationship between maternal HRQoL and child behaviour problems is independent of maternal mental health.

Methods: Cross-sectional survey nested within a population-level, cluster randomised trial, which aims to prevent early child behaviour problems. One hundred and sixty mothers of 2-year-old children, in nine local government areas in Victoria, Australia. HRQoL was measured using the Assessment of Quality of Life 6D and child behaviour was measured using the child behaviour checklist (CBCL/1.5-5 years). Maternal mental health was measured using the Depression Anxiety Stress Scale. Data were collected at child age 2 years; demographic data were collected at child age 8 months.

Results: HRQoL was lower for mothers with children that had borderline/clinical behaviour problems compared to those with children without problems (mean difference -0.14, 95% confidence interval (CI): -0.16 to -0.12, P < 0.001). The finding did not markedly change when adjusting for household income, financial security, child gender, child temperament and intervention group status at child age 8 months (mean difference -0.12, 95% CI: -0.15 to -0.09, P < 0.001), but did attenuate when additionally adjusting for concurrent maternal mental health (mean difference -0.03, 95% CI: -0.05 to -0.02, P < 0.001).

Conclusions: Child behaviour problems were associated with lower maternal HRQoL. Child behaviour problems prevention programmes could consider this association with maternal HRQoL and be designed to improve and report both mothers' and their child's health and wellbeing.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/jpc.13269DOI Listing
December 2016

Trends in paediatric practice in Australia: 2008 and 2013 national audits from the Australian Paediatric Research Network.

J Paediatr Child Health 2017 Jan 4;53(1):55-61. Epub 2016 Sep 4.

Centre for Community Child Health, Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

Aim: In adult medicine, rates of investigation and prescribing appear to be increasing. Such information is lacking for paediatrics. We audited Australian paediatricians' practices in 2013 to determine changes since 2008 in: (i) conditions seen; (ii) consultation duration; (iii) imaging and pathology ordered; and (iv) prescribing.

Methods: This is a patient-level prospective audit of paediatricians' secondary care practice. Between November and December 2013, members of the Australian Paediatric Research Network were invited to complete standardised forms for 100 consecutive patients or all patients seen over 2 weeks, whichever was completed first.

Main Measures: diagnoses, consultation duration, pathology and/or imaging investigations ordered, rate of medication prescription.

Analyses: hierarchical linear modelling clustered at the paediatrician level.

Results: One hundred and eighty paediatricians (48% of those eligible) contributed 7102 consultations. The proportion of developmental/behavioural conditions rose from 48% (SD 31%) to 60% (SD 30%) in new and 54% (SD 28%) to 66% (SD 28%) in review consultations in 2013 compared with 2008. More paediatricians reported diagnoses of autism spectrum disorder (39-56%, P = 0.002), attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (47-55%, P = 0.05) and intellectual disability (18-36%, P = 0.001) in first consultations. Mean consultation duration and pathology/imaging ordering rates were stable. Prescribing rates increased from 39 to 45% of consultations for the top 10 new diagnoses and from 57 to 68% of consultations for the top 10 review diagnoses.

Conclusions: Paediatricians are seeing more children with developmental-behavioural conditions, prescribing more and demonstrating wide variation in their practice. The latter suggests both over- and under-treatment.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/jpc.13280DOI Listing
January 2017

Diagnosing autism: Contemporaneous surveys of parent needs and paediatric practice.

J Paediatr Child Health 2016 May 3;52(5):506-11. Epub 2016 May 3.

Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

Aim: Concurrence between parents' information needs and clinicians' practice when diagnosing autism is unknown but may influence families' uptake of management and adjustment. We aimed to compare parents' experience and preferences with paediatrician report of (i) diagnosis delivery and (ii) information given at diagnosis and identify types and usefulness of resources accessed by families post-diagnosis.

Methods: The design used for the study are parent and paediatrician surveys. Participants are parents of children aged 1.5-18 years, diagnosed with autism between 01 January 2010 and 30 September 2012 and their paediatricians who are members of the Australian Paediatric Research Network. Study-designed quantitative and qualitative questions about diagnosis delivery and information given at diagnosis (written and spoken vs. neither) and parent perceived importance and harms of information accessed post-diagnosis.

Results: Paediatricians (53/198 (27%)) identified 1127 eligible families, of whom 404 (36%) participated. Parents were more likely to report receiving adequate time to discuss diagnosis than paediatricians (71 vs. 51%). Parents (98%) rated information about accessing allied health professionals and the meaning of diagnosis as most important, yet paediatricians offered written or spoken information about each infrequently (allied health: 22%; diagnosis: 42%). Post-diagnosis, allied health was the most important source of information (83%). Harmful resources conveyed helplessness or non-evidenced-based therapies, but few parents (14%) reported this.

Conclusions: Parents want more information than can be conveyed in a single diagnostic consultation. Developing a tailored 'autism action plan' with written materials could improve parents' understanding of and satisfaction with children's autism diagnoses.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/jpc.13157DOI Listing
May 2016

Diagnosing autism: Australian paediatric research network surveys.

J Paediatr Child Health 2016 Jan;52(1):11-7

School of Psychology, Deakin University, Geelong, Victoria, Australia.

Aim: Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder with reported prevalence of more than 1/100. In Australia, paediatricians are often involved in diagnosing ASD and providing long-term management. However, it is not known how paediatricians diagnose ASD. This study aimed to investigate whether the way Australian paediatricians diagnose ASD is in line with current recommendations.

Methods: Members of the Australian Paediatric Research Network were invited to answer questions about their ASD diagnostic practice in a multi-topic survey and also as part of a study about parents needs around the time of a diagnosis of ASD.

Results: The majority of the 124 paediatricians who responded to the multi-topic survey and most who responded to the parent needs survey reported taking more than one session to make a diagnosis of ASD. Most paediatricians included information from preschool, child care or school when making a diagnosis, and over half included information from speech pathology or psychology colleagues more than 50% of the time. The main reasons for not including assessment information in the diagnostic process were service barriers such as no regular service available or long waiting lists. More than 70% reported ordering audiology and genetic tests more than half of the time.

Conclusion: Not all paediatricians are following current recommendations for diagnosing ASD more than 50% of the time. While there are good reasons why current diagnostic approaches may fall short of expected standards, these need to be overcome to ensure diagnostic validity and optimal services for all children and their families.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/jpc.13029DOI Listing
January 2016