Emotional and behavioural status and associated factors of children aged 11-16 years in children’s homes in Gampaha Probationary Division

Shamila Manori & Pushpa Lalani Jayawardana - Journal of the College of Community Physicians of Sri Lanka


Introduction: Emotional and behavioural conditions are common among inmates living in children’s homes due to the lack of love, affection and care compared to their counterparts living with parents, making them more vulnerable for above disorders.

Objectives: To describe the emotional and behavioural status and the associated factors among inmates aged 11-16 years of children’s homes in the Gampaha Probationary Division

Methods: A descriptive cross-sectional study was conducted. Sample size calculated was 294. Inclusion criteria was being conversant in Sinhala language. All eligible inmates of 14 children’s homes in Gampaha Probationary Division were recruited. Study instruments comprised self-rated Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ), interviewer-administered questionnaire and a checklist to extract relevant data from the records. Bivariate and multivariate logistic regression was carried out to identify associated factors for emotional and behavioural status. Probability <0.05 was selected as the significant level. The results were expressed as odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI).

Results: Response rate was 100% (N=279). The prevalence of abnormal emotional and behavioural status was 26.2% (95% CI=21.1, 31.7). Problems with conduct were the highest (28.7%; 95% CI=23.4, 34.4) and pro-social problems were the lowest (3.6%; 95% CI=1.7, 6.5). Female sex (OR=2.4; 95% CI=1.2, 4.8; p=0.014), living in children’s homes for more than six years (OR=3.0; 95% CI=1.5, 6.0; p=0.003), having less than 10 friends (OR=2.2; 95% CI=1.2, 4.2; p=0.015) and keeping problems to themselves (OR=10.1; 95% CI=3.9, 26.2; p<0.001) were significantly associated with having abnormal emotional and behavioural status.

Conclusions: Observed prevalence is higher than figures from general population, which was 18.9%. Except sex, all associated factors were modifiable, thus early screening and establishing counselling services are recommended. Future research should focus on assessing all three versions of SDQ and qualitative research to identify root causes of the related problems.