• School of Public Health, Chongqing Medical University, Chongqing 400016, China;
LIU Qin, Email: liuqin81622@163.com
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Objective  To systematically review the literatures on left-behind children’s mental health status, and to describe and analyze the current domestic left-behind children’s main psychological health problems.
Methods  With the search terms and strategies predefined by repeated discuss and pre-retrieval, the literatures in Chinese published before March 2011 were searched in following four Chinese databases including Chinese Biological Medical Literature Database (CBM), Chinese Science and Technology Periodical Database (VIP), China National Knowledge Infrastructure (CNKI) and WanFang Dissertation Database (WF). All research papers that reported the left-behind children’s mental health status and problems within China were included. Two reviewers independently screened the literatures and extracted the data. Disagreements were resolved by discussion or by involving a third researcher. The qualitative synthesis method was used to analyze the studies, while the meta-analysis was not adopted because of the tremendous heterogeneity of each study on the definition of left-behind children, study design and outcomes.
Results  A total of 155 studies were included for the final analysis and all of them were the cross-sectional study including 63 uncontrolled cross-sectional studies and 92 controlled cross-sectional studies. Most of the results showed that compared with the non-left-behind children, the left-behind children’s mental health level was lower and there were many psychological problems. While several studies suggested that there was no significant difference between the two groups. The left-behind children in different types (such as different gender, age, guardianship types, the migrant condition of parents, etc.) had different mental health problems.
Conclusion  The results of the current research indicate that the left-behind children have many mental health problems. However, the results are still controversial. The definitions of left-behind children have not been unified and the quality of current studies is generally low, which might influence the synthesis of results. High quality of controlled studies and long-term prospective cohort studies need to be conducted to study more accurately and deeply on the left-behind children’s mental health and on the differences between the left-behind children and non-left-behind children.

Citation: ZHANG Fan,LIU Qin,ZHAO Yong,SUN Minhong,WANG Hong. Left-behind Children’s Mental Health Problems: A Systematic Review. Chinese Journal of Evidence-Based Medicine, 2011, 11(8): 849-857. doi: 10.7507/1672-2531.20110145 Copy

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