Ohio Youth Problem Scale

I recently presented my poster on research I had conducted this past summer at an intervention program at Yale. This program is designed to take children with severe psychiatric diagnoses or criminal histories and apply multisystematic therapy in an attempt to prevent further violence and harm.

Among my more riveting tasks as a summer intern (deciding which cases were to be accepted by the intervention program, assisting in delivering couple’s counselling to the child’s parents, attending Grand Rounds where clinicians delved into the most violent cases they had seen), I was also assigned things such as entering the data from various questionnaires.

However, one particular questionnaire — the Ohio Problem Scale for Youth — grabbed me. I was so interested in this questionnaire in fact, that I asked my supervisor to be taken off the clinical work and instead try doing independent research (something I had run from previously).

The Ohio Problem Scale for Youth is a questionnaire that is given to parents and children to fill out at the beginning and at the end of the intervention independently. Parents and children answer the exact same questions- both about the behaviour/emotions of the child. The OPSY asks questions such as “how often does the child hurt themselves” with options of 1 (never) to 5 (frequently, many days of the week).

What struck me while entering the results from these questionnaires was how off parents were in rating the behaviour of their child. Some parents would answer questions such as “how often does your child think about their own death” with a 1 (never), whereas the child would rank themselves as a 5 (they think about their own death most days of the week). There was clearly a disconnect between parents and children and I wanted to see if the intervention had an effect on reducing the disconnect.

I compared parent-child scores at baseline and at discharge and found a very significant effect (p<.001) of the intervention on reducing this disconnect.

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