Can population-level variation in early childhood development be measured in a manner that supports service planning and intervention?
University College Cork
Background: The Early Development Instrument (EDI) is a population-level measure of five developmental domains at school-entry age. The overall aim of this thesis was to explore the potential of the EDI as an indicator of early development in Ireland. Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted in 47 primary schools in 2011 using the EDI and a linked parental questionnaire. EDI (teacher completed) scores were calculated for 1,344 children in their first year of full-time education. Those scoring in the lowest 10% of the sample population in one or more domains were deemed to be 'developmentally vulnerable'. Scores were correlated with contextual data from the parental questionnaire and with indicators of area and school-level deprivation. Rasch analysis was used to determine the validity of the EDI. Results: Over one quarter (27.5%) of all children in the study were developmentally vulnerable. Individual characteristics associated with increased risk of vulnerability were being male; under 5 years old; and having English as a second language. Adjusted for these demographics, low birth weight, poor parent/child interaction and mother’s lower level of education showed the most significant odds ratios for developmental vulnerability. Vulnerability did not follow the area-level deprivation gradient as measured by a composite index of material deprivation. Children considered by the teacher to be in need of assessment also had lower scores, which were not significantly different from those of children with a clinical diagnosis of special needs. all domains showed at least reasonable fit to the Rasch model supporting the validity of the instrument. However, there was a need for further refinement of the instrument in the Irish context. Conclusion: This thesis provides a unique snapshot of early development in Ireland. The EDI and linked parental questionnaires are promising indicators of the extent, distribution and determinants of developmental vulnerability.
Rasch model , Child development , Population health
Curtin, M. 2014 Can population-level variation in early childhood development be measured in a manner that supports service planning and intervention? PhD Thesis, University College Cork.