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The Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) is a behavior assessment measure which was designed to address the problem of defining child behavior problems empirically. It is based on a careful review of the literature and carefully conducted empirical studies. It is designed to assess in a standardized format the behavioral problems and social competencies of children ,aged between 4-18, as reported by parents.
Problems are identified by a respondent who knows the child well, usually a parent or other care giver. Alternative measures are available for teachers (the Teacher's Report Form) and the child (the Youth Self Report). There are two versions of the checklist. The preschool checklist (CBCL/1½-5) is intended for use with children aged 18 months to 5 years. The school-age version (CBCL/6-18) is for children aged 6 to 18 years.
The CBCL can be self-administered or conducted by an interviewer.
The checklists consists of a number of statements about the child's behavior, e.g. Acts too young for his/her age. Responses are recorded on a Likert scale: 0 = Not True, 1 = Somewhat or Sometimes True, 2 = Very True or Often True. The preschool checklist contains 100 questions and the school-age checklist contains 120 questions.
Similar questions are grouped into a number of syndromes, e.g. Aggressive behavior, and their scores are summed to produce a score for that syndrome. Some syndromes are further summed to provide scores for Internalizing and Externalizing problem scales. A total score from all questions is also derived. For each syndrome, problem scale and the total score, tables are given that determine whether the score represents normal, borderline, or clinical behavior. These categorizations are based on quantiles from a normative sample.
There are also 20 social competency items used to measure the child’s participation in:
- jobs and chores,
- how well the child gets along with others
- how well they play and work when alone
- school functioning.
Individual item intraclass correlations (ICC) of greater than .90 were obtained "between item scores obtained from mothers filling out the CBCL at 1-week intervals, mothers and fathers filling out the CBCL on their clinically-referred children, and three different interviewers obtaining CBCLs from parents of demographically matched triads of children." Stability of ICCs over a 3-month period were .84 for behavior problems and .97 for social competencies. Test-retest reliability of mothers’ ratings were .89. Some differences were found between mothers’ and fathers’ individual ratings.
Several studies have supported the construct validity of the instrument. Tests of criterion-related validity using clinical status as the criterion (referred/non-referred) also support the validity of the instrument. Importantly, demographic variables such as race and SES accounted for a relatively small proportion of score variance.
Normative data, obtained from parents of 1,300 children, were heterogeneous with respect to race and socioeconomic status and were proportionate to the composition of the general U.S. population.
The CBCL is considered a viable tool for assessing a child’s behaviors, via parent report, in a clinical or research environment.
- ↑ Achenbach, T.M., & Rescorla, L.A. (2000). Manual for the ASEBA Preschool forms and Profiles. Burlington, VT: University of Vermont Department of Psychiatry. ISBN 0-938565-68-0
- ↑ Achenbach, T.M., & Rescorla, L. A. (2001). Manual for the ASEBA School-Age Forms and Profiles. Burlington, VT: University of Vermont, Research Center for Children, Youth, and Families. ISBN 0-938565-73-7
- Wadsworth, M. E., Hudziak, J. J., Heath, A. C., & Achenbach, T. M. (2001)Latent class analysis of Child Behavior Checklist anxiety/depression in children and adolescents. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 40, 106-114..
- Achenbach, T. M., & Ruffle, T. M.(2000) The Child Behavior Checklist and related forms for assessing behavioral/emotional problems and competencies. Pediatrics in Review, 21, 265-271.
- Hudziak, J. J., Wadsworth, M. E., Heath, A. C., Achenbach, T. M. Latent class analysis of Child Behavior Checklist attention problems. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 1999, 38, 985-991..
- Achenbach, T. M. Child Behavior Checklist and related instruments. In M. E. Maruish (Ed.), The use of psychological testing for treatment planning and outcomes assessment (2nd ed.). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum, 1999.
- Achenbach, T. M. Child Behavior Checklist. In A. E. Kazdin (Ed.), Encyclopedia of psychology. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.
- Achenbach, T. M., & McConaughy, S. H. (1998) School-Based Practitioners' Guide for the Child Behavior Checklist and Related Forms. Burlington, VT: University of Vermont Department of Psychiatry.
- Achenbach, T. M., Pecora, P. J., & Wetherbee, K. M. (1998) Child and Family Service Workers' Guide for the Child Behavior Checklist and Related Forms. Burlington, VT: University of Vermont Department of Psychiatry.
- Achenbach, T. M. & Ruffle, T. M. (1997) Medical Practitioners' Guide for the Child Behavior Checklist and Related Forms. Burlington, VT: University of Vermont Department of Psychiatry.
- Achenbach, T. M. (1996) The Child Behavior Checklist and related instruments. In L. I. Sederer & B. Dickey (Eds.), [[Outcomes assessment in clinical practice]. Baltimore: Williams & Wilkins.
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