Infant mental health: The Brief Child and Family Intake and Outcomes System Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • There is a need to identify children with potential mental health issues early in order to provide “an ounce of prevention.” Unfortunately, there are few instruments available to identify emotional and behavioral issues in infants and many never receive intervention. We developed the Brief Child and Family Intake and Outcomes System for Infants, which is a standardized online parent questionnaire including one externalizing scale (Cooperating), two internalizing scales (Expressing Emotion; Responding to Change), and two regulatory scales (Eating; Sleeping). We conducted a normative study of 542 Canadian children aged 8–17 months, stratified by sex, age, geographic region, and parents’ marital status, income, and education. Results of confirmatory factor analyses demonstrated good model fit and the relationship between items and subscales did not vary significantly between boys and girls or between younger and older infants. Reliability estimates indicated high internal consistency and adequate to high test-retest reliability. Providing preliminary evidence of validity, scale scores had moderate to strong positive relations with measures of family distress, caregiver mood, and demographic variables. Analyses of latent variables revealed good evidence of discriminant validity of the scales. We extend earlier work by addressing a very young age range, including subscales particularly relevant to infant emotional and behavioral regulation while at the same time minimizing respondent burden, and providing norms for Canadian infants. The questionnaire could be used in children’s mental health settings, primary care, child welfare, and daycare facilities, for intake, triage, and describing infants.

publication date

  • November 2018