OBJECTIVE - Disinhibited social engagement disorder (DSED) is poorly understood beyond early childhood. The course of DSED signs in a sample of children who experienced severe, early deprivation from early childhood to early adolescence was examined using variable-centered (linear mixed modeling) and person-centered (growth mixture modeling) approaches.
METHOD - The study included 124 children with a history of institutional care from a randomized controlled trial of foster care as an alternative to institutional care and 69 community comparison children matched by age and sex. DSED signs were assessed at baseline (mean age 22 months), 30, 42, and 54 months of age, and 8 and 12 years of age using a validated caregiver report of disturbed attachment behavior.
RESULTS - Variable-centered analyses based on intent-to-treat groups indicated that signs of DSED decreased sharply for children randomized to foster care and decreased slightly but remained high for children randomized to care as usual. Person-centered analyses showed 4 profiles (i.e., elevated, persistent modest, early decreasing, and minimal). Elevated and persistent modest courses were associated with greater placement disruptions (F = 4.29, p = .007, partial eta-squared [η] = 0.12), older age at placement into foster care (F = 3.41, p < .05, partial η = 0.16), and more time in institutional care (F = 11.91, p < .001, partial η = 0.24) compared with decreasing and minimal courses.
CONCLUSION - Early and sustained placement into families after deprivation is associated with minimal or decreasing signs of DSED across development. Shortening the amount of time children spend in institutions and preserving placements could help decrease signs of DSED into early adolescence in previously institutionalized children.
Copyright © 2018 American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.