Authors: Torun Täljedal, Mats Granlund, Lena Almqvist, Fatumo Osman, Eva Norén Selinus, Karin Fängström


Children with disabilities have an increased risk of mental health problems. Patterns of mental health problems and well-being may vary.

To identify patterns of mental health problems and well-being in children with disabilities in Sweden, and investigate the influence of parental background (migration, education), and child cognitive level.

In this cross-sectional study, cluster analysis was used to analyse parents’ ratings of conduct problems, emotional symptoms, and prosocial behaviour on the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) in children with disabilities (n = 136). The influence of parental background (migration, education) and child cognitive level on cluster membership was explored through multinomial logistic regression.

Five clusters of mental health patterns emerged. Three clusters had mean ratings near or
past clinical cut-off for one each of the SDQ-subscales. One cluster had difficulties on all
three subscales. Greater child cognitive difficulties increased the likelihood of low prosocial behaviour (OR 2.501, p < .001) and of difficulties on all three subscales (OR 2.155, p = .006). Parental background did not influence cluster membership.

Children with disabilities display varying mental health patterns. Awareness of the complexity of mental health patterns among children with disabilities is important. Screening and support for emotional symptoms and prosocial behaviour deficits should be considered for children with conduct problems.

This research is financed by: Swedish Research Council