Research Abstracts: Impact on children’s live

Title: Schizophrenia: the impact of parental illness on children.
Author: Somers, Victoria
Reference: British Journal of Social Work, 37(8), December 2007, pp.1319-1334.

This research sets out to discover what impact parental schizophrenia makes on a child’s life. It focuses on the daily life and experiences of children. Their health, education, family and leisure activities are examined. It investigates children’s contact with helping agencies and their unmet needs. The sample was drawn from the children of patients in Dublin. They were matched with a control group of children of well parents. Most children who have one parent with schizophrenia had similar profiles to the children of well parents in the areas of physical health, positive family feelings, friendships, hobbies and household tasks. But sample children had more psychiatric disturbance, increased problems associated with school, less contact with relatives and spent more time at home. The children had little access to services and were upset by hospital visiting. The need for an educational programme and support for these children was demonstrated. It is recommended that adult and child mental health services develop a more co-ordinated approach to meet their needs.

Title: Predictors of depressive symptoms in primary caregivers of young children with or at risk for developmental delay.
Author: Feldman M, et al
Reference: Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 51(8), August 2007, pp.606-619.

In this study the authors examined Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) scores in 178 primary caregivers (mainly biological mothers) who had two-year-old children with or at risk for developmental delay owing to: low birthweight, prematurity or multiple birth other known reasons such as Down’s syndrome, or unknown reasons. The authors found that 20% of the caregivers scored above the BDI clinical cut-off for depression. Caregivers with elevated BDI scores had higher child behaviour problem and escape-avoidance coping scores, and lower social support and parent self-efficacy, compared with caregivers without depressive symptoms. Caregivers with children who had developmental delay for unknown reasons had higher BDI scores than caregivers of the other two groups of children. Only social support moderated the relationship between child behaviour problems and caregiver depressive symptoms. These findings suggest that early intervention programmes should carefully consider the interaction of child and parent.

Title: Psychosocial outcomes for adult children of parents with severe mental Illnesses: demographic and clinical history predictors.
Author: Mowbray, Carol T
Reference: Health and Social Work, 31(2), May 2006, pp.99-108.

Children of parents with mental illness are at risk of psychiatric and behavioural problems. Few studies have investigated the psychosocial outcomes of these children in adulthood or the parental psychiatric history variables that predict resilience. In this study, mothers reported that about 80% of these adult children were working, in school, or in training. However, about one-third had not completed high school, and 54% were judged to have a major problem in psychological, drug or alcohol, or legal domains. Although nearly 40% were parents of minor children, only about 12% were in a committed relationship. Mothers’ bipolar diagnosis was a significant predictor for number of adult child problems. The results indicate a need for more attention to the parenting status of adults with mental illnesses.


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