Background: Adolescents' attention and behavioural problems in relation to the family environment were studied in the Northern Finland 1986 Birth Cohort.
Method: Fifteen-year-old adolescents (N=6888) completed the Youth Self-Report (YSR) questionnaire and their parents (N=6643) completed the Strengths and Weaknesses in ADHD and Normal Behaviours (SWAN) questionnaire. The ratings were compared in relation to gender and family characteristics.
Results: Girls scored higher than boys on the YSR attention problems subscale (means 4.61 vs. 3.41), the rule-breaking behaviour subscale (means 4.25 vs. 3.69) and the aggressive behaviour subscale (means 7.18 vs. 5.63). Parents reported more SWAN attention problems in their sons than in their daughters. Living in an other than intact family increased YSR and SWAN attention problems and YSR behavioural problems in both genders. Adolescents living in very large families (11-19 children) had least attention and behavioural problems.
Conclusions: Attention and behavioural problems seem to be common among adolescents in Finland. For both genders, living in other than intact families increases especially behavioural problems. Additionally, a very large family seems to be a protective factor against those problems.