Effect of co-occurrence on the referability of internalizing and externalizing problem behavior in adolescents

J Clin Child Psychol. 1997 Jun;26(2):198-204. doi: 10.1207/s15374424jccp2602_8.


Assessed the effect of co-occurring versus not co-occurring internalizing and externalizing behavior problems on the reasons parents reported for clinical referral of their adolescent child. Reasons for referral were coded for 181 inpatient adolescents, and parent ratings of internalizing and externalizing behavior were obtained for a general population sample of 500 adolescents. Parents concurrently reported internalizing and externalizing behavior as reasons for referral less frequently (p < .0001) than would be expected given the correlation between these two domains in the general population sample. This suggests that the presence of externalizing problems may decrease parents' concern or awareness of internalizing problems, the presence of internalizing problems may decrease parents' concern or awareness of externalizing problems, or both. Implications for the clinical referral of adolescents and for informal parental efforts at helping their children with externalizing and internalizing problems are discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Comorbidity
  • Female
  • Hospitalization
  • Hospitals, Psychiatric
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology
  • Mental Disorders / psychology
  • Models, Psychological
  • Personality Inventory
  • Referral and Consultation