The patchwork perspective : multi-informant ratings of children’s psycho-social well-being over time using child and informant factors

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Date

2011-05

Authors

Silcox, Karen Kinsel, 1975-

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Abstract

This study was part of a larger multi-informant longitudinal study with a sample of 319 children (52% male, 48% female) ages 4-12 (mean= 7 years 9 months) whose parents had recently filed for divorce. Three annual waves of data from four informants were used for analysis: child self-report, mother, teacher, and observer report. The purpose of the study was to add to the understanding of multi-informant research and children’s psycho-social well-being. The first goal was to determine the consensus of children’s psycho-social well-being scores within informant across time, within child across informant, and between children over time. The second goal was to determine factors that contribute to the levels of consensus, such as, child gender, child age, child ethnicity, and length of parents’ separation, maternal baseline depressive symptoms score, and timing of the teacher questionnaire. The third goal was to determine if children could be classified into meaningful psycho-social well-being groups. Lastly, a visual diagnostic tool, the “patchwork”, was created using a random sample of eight prototypical cases of group membership based on predicted probabilities. This tool displayed the four informants scores, and child and informant characteristics. A single measure of child psycho-social well-being was created for each informant to compare rater consensus in hierarchical linear modeling. Latent class analysis was used to determine groupings. The HLM results indicate that 53% of the variance is within informants across time, 31% is within child across raters, and only 16% is between child over time. As expected, results showed more consensus of informants’ scores among girls than boys, the greatest consensus for children in middle childhood over other age groups, among Non-Hispanic White children compared to other ethnicities, and among spring reports than fall reports from teachers. Maternal baseline depressive symptoms score was significantly related to level of consensus of reporters, with greatest consensus when mother’s baseline depressive symptoms scores are at the mean (15.47). Mother’s scores of children’s psycho-social well-being decrease from highest scores of when baseline depressive symptoms score is 0, decreasing -.02 with each point increase in baseline depressive symptoms score. The results of the latent class analysis show two latent classes with maternal baseline depressive symptoms as a covariate best fit the data, one class with psycho-social well-being scores above the mean (N=258), and one with scores below the mean (N=61). Baseline data alone sufficiently models these groups and is chosen for parsimony over latent transition analysis. In sum, this study demonstrated benefits of multi-method multi-informant research, while acknowledging the strengths and biases that influence informant consensus of children’s psycho-social well being

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