Language disorders and problem behaviors: A meta-analysis

Philip R. Curtis*, Jennifer R. Frey, Cristina D. Watson, Lauren H. Hampton, Megan Y. Roberts

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


CONTEXT: A large number of studies have shown a relationship between language disorders and problem behaviors; however, methodological differences have made it difficult to draw conclusions from this literature. OBJECTIVE: To determine the overall impact of language disorders on problem behaviors in children and adolescents between the ages of birth and 18 years and to investigate the role of informant type, age, and type of problem behavior on this relationship. DATA SOURCES: We searched PubMed, EBSCO, and ProQuest. STUDY SELECTION: Studies were included when a group of children with language disorders was compared with a group of typically developing children by using at least 1 measure of problem behavior. DATA EXTRACTION: Effect sizes were derived from all included measures of problem behaviors from each study. RESULTS: We included 47 articles (63 153 participants). Meta-analysis of these studies revealed a difference in ratings of problem behaviors between children with language disorders and typically developing children of moderate size (g = 0.43; 95% confidence interval 0.34 to 0.53; P < .001). Age was entered as a moderator variable, and results showed that the difference in problem behavior ratings increases with child age (increase in g for each additional year in age = 0.06; 95% confidence interval 0.02 to 0.11; P = .004). LIMITATIONS: There was considerable heterogeneity in the measures of problem behaviors used across studies. CONCLUSIONS: Children with language disorders display greater rates of problem behaviors compared with their typically developing peers, and this difference is more pronounced in older children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere20173551
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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