Conduct problems (CP) in childhood have been linked to negative long-term consequences on mental health (depression, addiction, or personality disorders) and to heavy and costly medical service use in adulthood. However, little is known about the development of these mental health problems in children with CP (such as the times when they appear, and their mutual influences over time), nor about the trajectories of medical service usage from childhood to adolescence. This is especially true for girls with early CP. However, this knowledge would be essential in the identification of critical periods as well as targets for preventive action. In addition, given that CP in childhood frequently occur in a context of maltreatment, and that problematic parenting practices generally enter into the clinical picture of child maltreatment and CP, it is important to identify if parental programs offered within youth protection may affect the use of medical services for these children and medical consultations for mental health.
This programme of research consists of three studies that incorporate data of the RAMQ and the MSSS, and self-reported data on medical service use and mental health into an ongoing longitudinal study of boys and girls (6-9 years) with and without CP followed for 11 years. A fourth study will use administrative data on child protective services to examine the impact of parenting interventions on children's trajectories of medical service usage. Knowledge generated will help inform services and clinicians regarding the developmental periods during which intensifying preventive efforts might yield positive results in terms of deflecting negative physical and mental health trajectories, as well as trajectories of increased medical service usage. Information on effects of parenting programs on medical service use trajectories among maltreated children will help clinicians choose the best programs to help these vulnerable children.