Year of Publication



Public Health

Date Available


Degree Name

Master of Public Health (M.P.H.)

Committee Chair

Christina Studts, PhD

Committee Member

Mark Swanson, PhD

Committee Member

Alex Howard, DrPH


This study examines the demographic disparities in children with externalizing behavior disorders, such as oppositional defiant disorder and conduct disorder, utilizing secondary data from the 2011/2012 National Survey of Children’s Health (NSCH). Current literature suggests that children with externalizing behavior disorders are more likely to be male, live in a low-­‐income family, receive lower grades in school, and to develop later conditions such as depression. Chi square tests and logistic regression were used to examine the associations of presence of a current behavioral or conduct problems with age group, race/ethnicity, sex, household income level, and insurance type. Additionally, associations were assessed between mild versus moderate/severe behavioral or conduct problems with the same set of demographic variables. Approximately one in twenty children has a behavioral or conduct problem, and significant independent associations were observed with age, race/ethnicity, sex, poverty, and insurance type. This study’s findings confirm the importance of early detection of behavioral or conduct problems, consistent insurance coverage that provides access to mental health care, and the need for refined tools to measure behavioral or conduct problem severity in large samples.

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