Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 36, Issue 3, pp 411–419 | Cite as

Predicting Nonresponse Bias from Teacher Ratings of Mental Health Problems in Primary School Children

  • Kjell Morten Stormark
  • Einar Heiervang
  • Mikael Heimann
  • Astri Lundervold
  • Christopher Gillberg


The impact of nonresponse on estimates of mental health problems was examined in a prospective teacher screen in a community survey of 9,155 7–9 year olds. For 6,611 of the children, parents consented to participation in the actual study (Responders), while for 2,544 children parental consent was not obtained (Nonresponders). The teacher screen involved assessment of a broad set of symptoms of mental health problems and functional impairment. Calculations of non-response coefficients, a function of effect sizes and non-response proportion, revealed only ignorable nonresponse bias for both mean scores and correlations. However, the results from binary logistic regressions revealed that children ascribed signs of mental health problems by their teachers were less likely to participate. This was most frequent among children with only moderate symptoms. However, it also involved children with high symptom scores related to inattention, hyperactivity, emotions and peer relationship problems. These findings suggest that measures based on effect size can underestimate the magnitude of non-response bias and that a logistic regression approach may be more appropriate for studies geared at estimating prevalence of mental health problems in children.


Nonresponse bias Community surveys Mental health problems in children 



The authors want to thank Stein Atle Lie for valuable inputs to the statistical analyses. We thank the whole Bergen Child Study group for their involvement in carrying out the study. Finally we thank all teachers who filled out the questionnaire. Without their high participation rate this study would not have been possible.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kjell Morten Stormark
    • 1
    • 2
  • Einar Heiervang
    • 3
  • Mikael Heimann
    • 1
    • 4
  • Astri Lundervold
    • 1
    • 5
  • Christopher Gillberg
    • 6
  1. 1.Centre for Child and Adolescent Mental HealthUniversity of BergenBergenNorway
  2. 2.Department of Clinical PsychologyUniversity of BergenBergenNorway
  3. 3.Department of Child and Adolescent Mental HealthHaukeland University HospitalBergenNorway
  4. 4.Department of Behavioural Sciences and LearningLinköping UniversityLinköpingSweden
  5. 5.Department of Biological and Medical PsychologyUniversity of BergenBergenNorway
  6. 6.Child Neuropsychiatry ClinicQueen Silvia’s Children’s Hospital, Sahlgren University HospitalGothenburgSweden

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