Lars Wichstrøm

Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Nidaros, Sør-Trøndelag, Norway

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Publications (107)281.52 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Here we tested the hypothesis that the new open-group Norwegian day care centers would more than traditionally organized centers negatively affect (1) current and (2) future teacher-child relationships, and (3) the developmental legacy of preschool problem behavior. The focus was on 850 four-year olds from 153 centers who were followed-up in first grade. Results of this natural quasi-experiment revealed that children from open-group centers (1) experienced less teacher-child closeness in preschool and (2) more teacher-child conflict in first grade; and (3) that high levels of preschool problem behavior forecast especially high levels of future teacher-child conflict, but only for children from open-group centers. Results highlight the importance of spatial and social organization of day care and their translational implications.
    Child Development 01/2015; · 4.92 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The need-to-belong theory stipulates that social exclusion fosters aggression, whereas the social-reconnection hypothesis suggests that social exclusion promotes motivation to behave cooperatively. To date, empirical investigations of these contrasting views have focused on the immediate effects of social exclusion, yielding mixed results. Here we examine longer-term effects of preschool social exclusion on children’s functioning two years later. Social exclusion was reported by teachers, aggression and cooperation by parents. Cross-lagged analyses showed that greater social exclusion at age four predicted more aggression and less cooperation at age six, providing support for the need-to-belong rather than social-reconnection hypothesis. Secondary analyses showed that social exclusion predicted more aggression only among children scoring above mean on aggression at age four, indicating that aggressive behavior is amplified by social exclusion among children already behaving aggressively. No gender differences were found. Implications and limitations are discussed in a developmental context.
    Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 01/2015; · 2.52 Impact Factor
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  • Silje Steinsbekk, Lars Wichstrøm
    21st World Congress of IACAPAP (International Association for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Allied Proffesions, Durban, South-Africa; 08/2014
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    ABSTRACT: Children with histories of disorganized attachment exhibit diverse problems, possibly because disorganization takes at least two distinctive forms as children age: controlling-punitive and controlling-caregiving. This variation in the developmental legacy of disorganization has been attributed primarily to variations in children's rearing experiences. Here an alternative explanation of these divergent sequelae of disorganization is evaluated: one focused on genotype. Structural equation modeling was applied to data on 704 Norwegian children to test whether the catechol-O-methyltransferase Val158Met genotype moderates the effect of disorganized attachment, which was measured dimensionally at 4 years of age using the Manchester Child Attachment Story Task, on changes in aggressive behavior and social competence from ages 4 to 6. Children who scored high on disorganization and were homozygous for the valine allele displayed significantly greater increases in aggression and decreases in self-oriented social skills (e.g., self-regulation and assertiveness) over time than did their disorganized counterparts carrying the methionine allele, whereas disorganized children carrying the methionine allele increased their other-oriented social skill (e.g., cooperation and responsibility) scores more than did valine-homozygous children. These results are consistent with the controlling-punitive and controlling-caregiving behaviors observed in disorganized children, suggesting that the children's genotype contributed to variations in the social development of disorganized children.
    Development and Psychopathology 06/2014; · 4.40 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: To identify sociodemographic, child, parent, and day care provider factors at age 4 that predict Norwegian children's service use for mental health problems at age 7. Two birth cohorts of 4-year-old children and their parents living in the city of Trondheim, Norway, were invited (82% consented). We successfully interviewed 995 parents among 1250 drawn to participate using the Preschool Age Psychiatric Assessment to set diagnoses and record parental burden and service use. Information concerning sociodemographics, child impairment, parental social support, and child need for mental health services according to parents, day care teacher, and health nurse were obtained. Rate of service use among those with a behavioral or emotional disorder was 10.7% at age 4 and 25.2% at age 7. Behavioral disorders (odds ratio [OR] 2.6, confidence interval [CI] 1.3-5.3), but not emotional disorders, predicted service use. When adjusted for incapacity (OR 1.3, CI 1.2-1.6), disorders were no longer predictive. Incapacity, in turn, was not predictive once parental burden (OR 1.1, CI 1.0-1.1) and parents' (OR 2.7, CI 1.0-7.9) and day care teachers' (OR 2.1, CI 1.4-3.2) judgment of child need of help were included. Lower socioeconomic status predicted more service use over and beyond these factors (OR 3.0, CI 1.5-6.1). Behavioral disorders may instigate service use if they result in impairment, and such impairment may operate via increased parental burden and parent and caregiver problem recognition. Service use may be increased through effective screening programs and efforts to increase day care teachers' recognition of emotional problems.
    PEDIATRICS 05/2014; · 4.47 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The need-to-belong theory stipulates that social exclusion (e.g., being rejected by peers) impairs the ability to self-regulate and experimental studies with adults support this contention, at least on a short-term basis. Few studies have investigated whether social exclusion affects the development of self-regulation on children in a more enduring manner. By using data from a community sample of 762 children, we investigated reciprocal relations between social exclusion and self-regulation from age four to age six. Social exclusion was reported by teachers, whereas self-regulation was reported by parents. Autoregressive latent cross-lagged analyses showed that social exclusion predicted impaired development of dispositional self-regulation, and reciprocally, that poor self-regulation predicted enhanced social exclusion. Social exclusion and self-regulation reciprocally affect one another over time. Social exclusion undermines children's development of self-regulation, whereas poor self-regulation increases the likelihood of exclusion. Results illuminate the applied relevance of the need-to belong theory.
    Journal of Personality 03/2014; · 2.44 Impact Factor
  • Tilmann von Soest, Lars Wichstrøm
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    ABSTRACT: This study examines secular trends in eating problems among adolescents between 1992 and 2010. The study aims further to investigate whether such trends can be accounted for by secular changes in putative risk factors. Three nationwide surveys of Norwegian senior high-school students were conducted in 1992, 2002, and 2010 (response rates 97.0, 91.0, and 83.2%). At each time point, approximately 3,000 adolescents participated. Eating problems were assessed by means of the Dieting and the Bulimia and Food Preoccupation subscales of the Eating Attitude Test-12. Moreover, a variety of potential risk factors that might account for time trends in such problems were measured. Dieting scores increased almost linearly for both genders during the research period. No differences over time in Bulimia and Food Preoccupation scores were seen among boys, whereas these symptoms peaked in 2002 for girls with considerably lower levels in both 1992 and 2010. The increase in Dieting from 1992 to 2010 for both genders could be attributed in part to increasing body mass index levels and, to a lesser degree, to depressive symptoms among females. The girls' time trend in Bulimia and Food Preoccupation was to some extent related to changes in appearance satisfaction, alcohol intoxication, and global self-worth. This study is one of few to statistically examine how secular trends in eating problems are related to changes in putative risk factors. The study does not however provide conclusive information on the causal direction between putative risk factors and eating problems. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. (Int J Eat Disord 2014).
    International Journal of Eating Disorders 03/2014; · 3.03 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Symptoms of depression and eating disorders increase during adolescence, particularly among girls, and they tend to co-occur. Despite this evidence, there is meager research on whether depression increases the risk of future eating pathology, or vice versa, and we do not know whether these processes are different for adolescent girls and boys. Accordingly, this study explored the prospective reciprocal associations between depressive symptoms and disordered eating at different time points from preadolescence to mid-adolescence and tested the moderator effect of gender on these associations. A community-based sample of Spanish youth (N = 942, 49 % female) was assessed at ages of approximately 10-11 (T1), 12-13 (T2), 14-15 (T3), and 16-17 (T4) years. The bidirectional relationships between depressive symptoms and disordered eating were estimated in an autoregressive cross-lagged model with latent variables. A unidirectional, age-specific association between depressive symptoms at T1 and disordered eating at T2 was found. No other significant cross-lagged effect emerged, but the stability of the constructs was considerable. Gender did not moderate any of the links examined. Regardless of gender, the transition from childhood to adolescence appears to be a key period when depressive symptoms foster the development of disordered eating. These findings suggest that early prevention and treatment of depression targeting both girls and boys may result in lower levels of depressive symptoms and disordered eating in adolescence.
    Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology 12/2013; · 3.09 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: This study provide data on the prevalence of diagnosable sleep disorders in preschoolers and examined the relationship between specific sleep disorders and a range of DSM-4-defined psychiatric symptoms. All children born in 2003 or 2004 in Trondheim, Norway, who attended regular community health checkups for 4 year olds were asked to participate (97.2% attendance; 82.0% consent rate, N = 2475). A screen-stratified subsample of 1250 children was recruited to participate in an additional comprehensive study that included a structured diagnostic interview (the Preschool-Age Psychiatric Assessment). Nine hundred ninety-five parents (79.6%) completed the interview. The estimated sleep disorder rate was 19.2%. Rates of specific disorders were as follows: primary insomnia (16.6%), primary hypersomnia (0.8%), nightmare disorder (2.2%), and sleepwalking disorder (0.7%). When adjusted for a range of common psychiatric symptoms, primary insomnia was specifically related to symptoms of depression, generalized anxiety disorder, separation anxiety, and specific phobia. When sleep problems were excluded as a symptom of depression, the association between depression and primary insomnia was no longer significant. Nightmare disorder was significantly related to generalized anxiety disorder. This first study of the prevalence and comorbidity of diagnosable sleep disorders in preschoolers indicates that primary insomnia is common in young children, whereas other sleep disorders are rare. Sleep disorders are related to psychiatric symptoms, particularly symptoms of anxiety disorders.
    Journal of developmental and behavioral pediatrics: JDBP 11/2013; · 2.27 Impact Factor
  • Lars Wichstrøm, Turid Suzanne Berg-Nielsen
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    ABSTRACT: Psychiatric disorders have been increasingly recognized in preschool children; at present, however, we know comparatively less about how well current diagnostic manuals capture the symptoms described in this age group and how comorbidity is patterned. Therefore, this study aimed to investigate whether the symptoms defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fourth edition (DSM-IV) load on their respective disorders, examine whether individual symptoms exist that load particularly high or low on the disorder they allegedly define, and analyze how comorbidity clusters in individual children. Parents of a community sample of Norwegian 4-year-olds (N = 995) were interviewed using the Preschool Age Psychiatric Assessment. A confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) and a latent profile analysis (LPA) were performed on the symptoms of seven DSM disorders: attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), oppositional defiant disorder, conduct disorder, major depressive disorder (MDD), generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), social phobia, and separation anxiety disorder. The results showed that the CFA solution that closely resembled the disorders delineated in the DSM-IV fitted the data best. However, vegetative symptoms did not define preschool depression. The LPA identified nine symptom profiles among preschoolers, of which four showed evidence of psychopathology: comorbid MDD/GAD + ADHD combined type, comorbid MDD/GAD + ADHD hyperactive/impulsive type, separation anxiety only, and social phobia only. In conclusion, the symptoms observed in preschoolers fit the DSM-IV well, and comorbidity followed specific patterns.
    European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry 10/2013; · 3.70 Impact Factor
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  • Tilmann von Soest, Lars Wichstrøm
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    ABSTRACT: Several survey studies among adolescents have shown increasing rates of depressive symptoms over the last two to three decades. We know however little about mechanisms that might explain this increase. The present study uses data from three nationwide representative surveys of 16-17 year-old Norwegian adolescents that were conducted according to identical procedures in 1992, 2002, and 2010 (response rates 97.0, 91.0, 84.3 %, respectively). At each time point, approximately 3,000 adolescents participated (48.8 % girls and 51.2 % boys). Questionnaire data on depressive symptoms and a variety of potential risk and protective factors that might explain time trends in such symptoms were assessed at all time points. The results showed that the prevalence of high scores on depressive symptoms increased significantly between 1992 and 2002 among both boys and girls. No significant changes were observed between 2002 and 2010. The increase from 1992 to 2002 among girls and boys could be partially attributed to increases in eating problems and cannabis use, while reduced satisfaction with own appearance among girls contributed as well. Although the study does not provide information about the causal direction between putative risk factors and depressive symptoms, the results provide some indication that eating problems, cannabis use, and appearance related factors may contribute in explaining secular trends in depressive symptoms.
    Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology 07/2013; · 3.09 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Anxiety disorders are often present at preschool age. Research on older children and studies contrasting preschoolers with high versus low behavioral inhibition (BI) highlight several risk factors, but these have not been investigated in community samples of young children. Child, parent, and peer factors at age 4 were therefore examined as potential predictors of anxiety disorders at age 6. Two birth cohorts of 4-year olds living in the city of Trondheim, Norway, were screened for emotional and behavioral problems. A subsample oversampled for emotional and behavioral problems were drawn to take part in the study; 82.1% consented. Parents of 1000 children were interviewed with the Preschool Age Psychiatric Assessment and provided ratings of children's BI, victimization by peers and their own anxiety symptoms. Assessments of attachment and parent-child interaction were based on observation. Preschool teachers rated children's social competence. Children were reassessed after 2 years (N = 797). High scores on BI, attention-deficient/hyperactivity disorder, parental anxiety, and peer victimization, along with low scores on social skills at age 4 collectively predicted anxiety disorders at age 6 after controlling for initial anxiety and other disorders. The effect of parental anxiety did only apply to children with high levels of BI. No effects of age-4 anxiety, gender, parenting, parental SES, divorce, peer acceptance, or attachment emerged. Behavioral inhibition, parental anxiety, and peer victimization function as risk factors whereas high social competence may protect against anxiety disorders in young children.
    Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 07/2013; · 5.42 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: To examine screening efficiency for preschool psychopathology by comparing the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire findings against diagnostic information, and to determine the added value of impact scores and teacher information. Using a 2-phase sampling design, a population-based sample of 845 children 4 years of age was recruited from community health check-ups in Trondheim, Norway, screen score stratified and oversampled for high screening scores. Blinded to screen ratings, DSM-IV diagnoses were assigned using the Preschool Age Psychiatric Assessment interview, against which the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire scores were compared through receiver operating characteristic analysis. Emotional and behavioral disorders were identified through parent ratings with a specificity of 88.8% (range, 87.0%-90.6%) and a sensitivity of 65.1% (range, 51.6-78.6%). The negative predictive value was 97.9% (range, 96.8%-98.9%), whereas the positive predictive value was 24.2% (range, 18.0%-30.3%) at a prevalence of 5.2%. Parental ratings identified more behavioral disorders (79.3%) than emotional disorders (59.2%). Screening for any disorder was somewhat less efficient: specificity, 88.9% (range, 87.0%-90.7%); sensitivity, 54.2% (range, 41.8%-66.6%); negative predictive value, 96.4% (range, 95.0%-97.8%); and positive predictive value, 25.9% (range, 19.6%-32.2%) at a prevalence of 6.7%. The area under the curve (AUC) value was 0.83 (range, 0.76-0.90) for emotional and behavioral disorders and 0.76 (range, 0.68-0.83) for any disorder. The prediction accuracy was not improved by impact scores or teacher information. The results indicate that preschoolers' emotional and behavioral disorders can be screened with the same efficiency as those of older children and adults. Other disorders were identified to a lesser extent. Further research should explore the potential of preschool screening to improve early detection and subsequent intervention.
    Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry 07/2013; 52(7):728-736. · 6.97 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Parents' ability to correctly perceive their child's skills has implications for how the child develops. In some studies, parents have shown to overestimate their child's abilities in areas such as IQ, memory and language. Emotion Comprehension (EC) is a skill central to children's emotion regulation, initially learned from their parents. In this cross-sectional study we first tested children's EC and then asked parents to estimate the child's performance. Thus, a measure of accuracy between child performance and parents' estimates was obtained. Subsequently, we obtained information on child and parent factors that might predict parents' accuracy in estimating their child's EC. METHODS: Child EC and parental accuracy of estimation was tested by studying a community sample of 882 4-year-olds who completed the Test of Emotion Comprehension (TEC). The parents were instructed to guess their children's responses on the TEC. Predictors of parental accuracy of estimation were child actual performance on the TEC, child language comprehension, observed parent-child interaction, the education level of the parent, and child mental health. RESULTS: Ninety-one per cent of the parents overestimated their children's EC. On average, parents estimated that their 4-year-old children would display the level of EC corresponding to a 7-year-old. Accuracy of parental estimation was predicted by child high performance on the TEC, child advanced language comprehension, and more optimal parent-child interaction. CONCLUSION: Parents' ability to estimate the level of their child's EC was characterized by a substantial overestimation. The more competent the child, and the more sensitive and structuring the parent was interacting with the child, the more accurate the parent was in the estimation of their child's EC.
    Child Care Health and Development 04/2013; · 1.70 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Extensive exposure to nonparental child care during the first 4.5 years of life has been demonstrated in some American studies to negatively affect children's socioemotional functioning. Data from 935 preschool children who averaged 54.9 (SD = 3.0) months of age, from Trondheim, Norway were used to examine whether such negative effects, would emerge in Norway, a country with a different child-care system. The children's externalizing problems and social competence were unrelated to their child-care experience. More time spent in child care during the first 4.5 years of life and experiencing peer groups of < 16 or > 18 children predicted greater caregiver-child conflict. The effect sizes were small. The results are discussed in terms of cross-national child-care differences.
    Child Development 03/2013; · 4.92 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: A strategy is needed on how to treat the growing number of obese children with the limited resources available. We compared the long-term (24 months) effectiveness of therapist-led groups (TLG) v. self-help groups (SHG) for parents on changes in children's adiposity and dietary intake. The study included ninety-nine children (forty-eight girls) who were referred to obesity treatment (7-12 years, BMI z-scores ≥ 2, attendance of at least one parent). Parents (ninety-one mothers, fifty-four fathers) were randomised to TLG aimed at increasing parents' competence to accomplish lifestyle changes (n 47), or SHG (n 52), both with fifteen sessions. All children participated in children's groups, and all families attended individual counselling by a clinical dietitian and physiotherapist. Percentage of body fat (BF) was measured by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry, BMI z-score was calculated by international reference values and dietary intake was calculated from 4 d estimated food records at baseline and after 6 and 24 months. No significant between-group differences were detected in the children's changes in adiposity or dietary intake after 6 and 24 months. BF, BMI z-scores and energy intake were significantly decreased after 6 months (P< 0·05) in both intervention groups, and this persisted throughout 24 months without compromising the diet macronutrient composition. In conclusion, the TLG and SHG intervention groups appear to be equally effective in improving long-term adiposity and dietary intake in obese children. Further research should be performed to clarify whether the SHG should be preferred to parental group treatment for similar children with obesity.
    The British journal of nutrition 02/2013; · 3.45 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

2k Citations
281.52 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 1999–2014
    • Norwegian University of Science and Technology
      • • Department of Psychology
      • • Department of Neuroscience (INM)
      • • Faculty of Medicine
      Nidaros, Sør-Trøndelag, Norway
  • 2013
    • St. Olavs Hospital
      Nidaros, Sør-Trøndelag, Norway
  • 1990–2013
    • University of Oslo
      • • Department of Psychology
      • • National Centre for Suicide Research and Prevention (NSSF)
      • • Department of Behavioural Sciences in Medicine
      • • Department of Sociology and Human Geography
      Oslo, Oslo, Norway
  • 2003–2012
    • Norwegian Social Research (NOVA)
      Kristiania (historical), Oslo County, Norway
  • 2009
    • Nord-Trøndelag University College
      Stenkjaer, Nord-Trøndelag, Norway
  • 2004–2009
    • Nordlandssykehuset HF
      Bodø, Nordland, Norway
    • Regionsenter for barn og unges psykiske helse
      Kristiania (historical), Oslo County, Norway
  • 2005
    • Norwegian Institute for Alcohol and Drug Research
      Kristiania (historical), Oslo County, Norway
  • 1992–2005
    • Institutt for samfunnsforskning, Oslo
      Kristiania (historical), Oslo County, Norway
  • 1997
    • University of London
      Londinium, England, United Kingdom
  • 1993–1995
    • The Research Council of Norway
      Kristiania (historical), Oslo County, Norway