Reading Aloud, Play, and Social-Emotional Development

Dr. Alan L. Mendelsohn, MD

Dr. Mendelsohn made it onto NYC CBS News last night! The link to the video is here:

Health Watch: New Study Says Reading To Young Children Helps Combat ADD

The peer-reviewed article itself is here:

And a few other media articles that picked it up:


OBJECTIVES: To determine impacts on social-emotional development at school entry of a
pediatric primary care intervention (Video Interaction Project [VIP]) promoting positive
parenting through reading aloud and play, delivered in 2 phases: infant through toddler
(VIP birth to 3 years [VIP 0–3]) and preschool-age (VIP 3 to 5 years [VIP 3–5]).
METHODS: Factorial randomized controlled trial with postpartum enrollment and random
assignment to VIP 0-3, control 0 to 3 years, and a third group without school entry
follow-up (Building Blocks) and 3-year second random assignment of VIP 0-3 and control
0 to 3 years to VIP 3-5 or control 3 to 5 years. In the VIP, a bilingual facilitator video
recorded the parent and child reading and/or playing using provided learning materials
and reviewed videos to reinforce positive interactions. Social-emotional development
at 4.5 years was assessed by parent-report Behavior Assessment System for Children,
Second Edition (Social Skills, Attention Problems, Hyperactivity, Aggression, Externalizing
RESULTS: VIP 0-3 and VIP 3-5 were independently associated with improved 4.5-year
Behavior Assessment System for Children, Second Edition T-scores, with effect sizes
(Cohen’s d) ∼−0.25 to −0.30. Receipt of combined VIP 0-3 and VIP 3-5 was associated with
d = −0.63 reduction in Hyperactivity (P = .001). VIP 0-3 resulted in reduced “Clinically
Significant” Hyperactivity (relative risk reduction for overall sample: 69.2%; P = .03;
relative risk reduction for increased psychosocial risk: 100%; P = .006). Multilevel models
revealed significant VIP 0-3 linear effects and age × VIP 3-5 interactions.
CONCLUSIONS: Phase VIP 0-3 resulted in sustained impacts on behavior problems 1.5 years
after program completion. VIP 3-5 had additional, independent impacts. With our findings,
we support the use of pediatric primary care to promote reading aloud and play from birth
to 5 years, and the potential for such programs to enhance social-emotional development.

2. Identification of Trauma Exposure and PTSD in Adolescent Psychiatric Inpatients: An Exploratory Study

Jennifer F. Havens,1,2 Omar G. Gudi˜no,1,2 Emily A. Biggs,1,2 Ursula N. Diamond,1,2 J. Rebecca Weis,1,2 and Marylene Cloitre2,3

1Department of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, Bellevue Hospital Center, New York, New York, USA,

2Department of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, New York University School of Medicine, New York, New York, USA

3National Center for PTSD, Palo Alto, California, USA


Trauma exposure and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), though prevalent among adolescent psychiatric inpatients, are underidentified in standard clinical practice. In a retrospective chart review of 140 adolescents admitted to a psychiatric inpatient unit, we examined associations between probable PTSD identified through the Child PTSD Symptom Scale and adolescents’ service use and clinical characteristics. Results suggest a large discrepancy between rates of probable PTSD identified through standardized assessment and during the emergency room psychiatric evaluation (28.6% vs. 2.2%). Adolescents with probable PTSD had greater clinical severity and service utilization, an increased likelihood of being diagnosed with bipolar disorder (27.5% vs. 9.2%) and being prescribed antipsychotic medications (47.5% vs. 27.6%), and were prescribed more psychotropic medications. Upon discharge, those with probable PTSD were more than those without to be assigned a diagnosis of PTSD (45% vs. 7.1%), a comorbid diagnosis of major depressive disorder (30% vs. 14.3%), to be prescribed an antidepressant medication (52.5% vs. 33.7%), and to be prescribed more medications. The underidentification of trauma exposure and PTSD has important implications for the care of adolescents given that accurate diagnosis is a prerequisite for providing effective care. Improved methods for identifying trauma-related problems in standard clinical practice are needed.


3. Randomized Controlled Trial of Primary Care Pediatric Parenting Programs

Alan L. Mendelsohn, MD; Benard P. Dreyer, MD; Carolyn A. Brockmeyer, PhD; Samantha B. Berkule-Silberman, PhD; Harris S. Huberman, MD, MPH; Suzy Tomopoulos, MD

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2011 Jan;165(1):42-8. doi: 10.1001/archpediatrics.2010.266.


OBJECTIVES:To determine whether pediatric primary care-based programs to enhance parenting and early child development reduce media exposure and whether enhanced parenting mediates the effects.

DESIGN:Randomized controlled trial.

SETTING:Urban public hospital pediatric primary care clinic.

PARTICIPANTS: A total of 410 mother-newborn dyads enrolled after childbirth.

INTERVENTIONS: Patients were randomly assigned to 1 of 2 interventions, the Video Interaction Project (VIP) and Building Blocks (BB) interventions, or to control group. The VIP intervention comprised 1-on-1 sessions with a child development specialist who facilitated interactions in play and shared reading through review of videotapes made of the parent and child on primary care visit days; learning materials and parenting pamphlets were also provided. The BB intervention mailed parenting materials, including age-specific newsletters suggesting activities to facilitate interactions, learning materials, and parent-completed developmental questionnaires (Ages and Stages questionnaires).

OUTCOME MEASURES: Electronic media exposure in the home using a 24-hour recall diary.

RESULTS: The mean (SD) exposure at 6 months was 146.5 (125.0) min/d. Exposure to VIP was associated with reduced total duration of media exposure compared with the BB and control groups (mean [SD] min/d for VIP, 131.6 [118.7]; BB, 151.2 [116.7]; control, 155.4 [138.7]; P = .009). Enhanced parent-child interactions were found to partially mediate relations between VIP and media exposure for families with a ninth grade or higher literacy level (Sobel statistic = 2.49; P = .01).

CONCLUSION: Pediatric primary care may represent an important venue for addressing the public health problem of media exposure in young children at a population level.