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Wednesday, January 04, 2006

PsychiatryMatters.MD: "Poverty relief reduces behavioral disorders

Relief of poverty reduces psychiatric symptoms in children, although the effect may be specific to behavioral disorders and not emotional disorders, US investigators report.
To investigate whether the relationship between poverty and mental illness is one of 'social causation' or 'social selection,' E Jane Costello (Duke University Medical School, Durham, North Carolina) and colleagues carried out annual psychiatric assessments on 1420 children aged between 9 and 13 years over an 8-year period. One quarter of these were American Indian, while the remainder were predominantly White.
Halfway through the study, the economic status of some of these children's families changed due to a casino opening, which resulted in every American Indian family being given an income supplement.
Thus, 14% of families moved out of poverty, while 53% remained poor, and the remaining 32% of families were never poor.
Before the casino opened, children living in poverty were more likely than those who were not poor to have a psychiatric disorder, at rates of 22% versus 15%.
Encouragingly, 4 years after the casino was introduced, the frequency of psychiatric symptoms among children who moved out of poverty fell to the same level as that for children whose families were never poor.
Adding to the income of never-poor families had no effect on psychiatric symptoms of the children.
The researchers note in the Journal of the American Medical Association that the effect of poverty was strongest for behavioral symptoms such as conduct and oppositional disorders, whereas there was little impact on anxiety and depression.
Interestingly, the one factor mediating the effect"
Interestingly, the one factor mediating the effect of relieving poverty was increased levels of parental supervision.
"These findings thus support a social causation for behavioral problems," Costello et al conclude

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eureka, California, United States
As Popeye once said,"I ams what I am." But then again maybe I'm not