From several theoretical perspectives as well as in psychotherapeutic practice it is assumed that family characteristics have a causal influence on the course of emotional and / or behavioral problems of children and adolescents (e.g., Boszonneny-Nagy & Sparke, 1973; Dadds, 1995; Hetherington & Mat1in, 1986; Jacob & Tennenbaum, 1988; Minuchin, 1974; Patterson, 1982). However, although there is an enollatous amount of evidence for the presence of an association between family functioning and children's problem behavior (e.g., Adams, Overholser, & Lehnert, 1994; Davies & Cunnnings, 1994; Emery, 1982; Grych & Fincham, 1990; Hollis, 1996; Patterson, 1982; Reid & Crisafulli, 1989; Rollins & Thomas, 1979; Rothbaum & Weisz, 1994; Simons, Robertson & Downs, 1989), it has hardly been shown whether family functioning and family relations, and changes therein are causative of changes in children's intematizing and / or extemalizing problem behavior, or vice versa. In other words, empirical support for the above stated assumption is rather lacking. Therefore, the primary aim of the research project which is reported in this thesis was to examine the causal relation between the course of family characteristics and the course of problem behavior in children and adolescents referred to outpatient mental health services. In order to improve our understanding of the nature and direction of the relation between family characteristics and child problem behavior longitudinal studies are indispensable.

adolescents, children, family functioning, problem behavior
F.C. Verhulst (Frank)
Erasmus University Rotterdam
Dutch Organization for Scientific Research (N.W.O.)
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Mathijssen, J.J.P. (1998, May 27). Family Functioning and Child Problem Behavior: a longitudinal study among referred children and adolescents. Erasmus University Rotterdam. Retrieved from