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28-02-2018 | Original Paper | Uitgave 7/2018

Journal of Child and Family Studies 7/2018

The Network Structure of Childhood Psychopathology in International Adoptees

Journal of Child and Family Studies > Uitgave 7/2018
Marko Elovainio, Christian Hakulinen, Laura Pulkki-Råback, Hanna Raaska, Helena Lapinleimu


International adoptees are at an increased risk of emotional and behavioral problems, especially those who are adopted at an older age. We took a new approach in our study of the network structure and predictability of emotional and behavioral problems in internationally adopted children in Finland. Our sample was from the on-going adoption study and comprised 778 internationally adopted children (387 boys and 391 girls, mean age 10.5 (SD 3.4) years). Networks were estimated using Gaussian graphical models and lasso regularization for all the children, and separately for those who were adopted at different ages. The results showed that anxiety/depressive symptoms, social problems, and aggressiveness were the most central symptom domains. Somatic symptoms were the least central and had the weakest effect on the other domains. Similarly, aggressiveness, social problems, and attention problems were high in terms of predictability (73–65%), whereas internalizing problems were relatively low (28–56%). There were clear but local age-group differences in network structure, symptom centrality, and predictability. According to our findings, network models provide important additional information about the centrality and predictability of specific symptom domains, and thus may facilitate targeted interventions among international adoptees.

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