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The aim of the study was to determine if there are differences in the daily time use between children with psychiatric disorders and those who are mental healthy. Therefore 1008 parent ratings were collected with the ILK (Mattejat et al., 1998) by telephone. The time budgets of these mental healthy children were compared to those of a clinical study, where parents rated the time budgets of their mental disabled children in ambulant and inpatient settings. To reduce biases by age, gender and school-type we built 335 matched-pairs.
Our results indicate that mental disabled children and adolescents spend significant less time with the ‘family’ and doing ‘homework’ but therefore they spend more time being ‘alone’ than healthy children do. Apart from that we could not find any other differences in the time budgets. We could also not find any influences on the results of an internal and external kind of mental disorder or of an ambulant and inpatient therapy mode respectively.
This is the first known study that compares the time budget of mental disabled and healthy children with matched-pair conditions and a similar amount of participants. The differences are significant but small, so there should follow a more detailed investigation of the activity-patterns. Finding out if there are differences between diagnostic groups should also be an aim of further investigation. Yet the results we found are showing that a time budget can be a useful tool to confirm a diagnosis or to evaluate a therapy.