Mothers of Children with Recent Onset of Rheumatic Disease: Associations between Maternal Distress, Psychosocial Variables, and the Disease of the Children

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As part of a longitudinal project based on a biopsychosocial model of juvenile rheumatic diseases, maternal mental distress was examined as a possible predisposing factor for the child's disease and/or as an effect of disease. Eighty-four mothers were interviewed and completed the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-20), the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI), and the Child Behavior Checklist. Fifty percent of the mothers reported psychiatric distress as indicated by GHQ ± 4. Trait anxiety of the mother (measuring stable personality characteristics) was unrelated to disease variables but was associated with psychosocial background variables [maternal childhood environment (CES) (r = −0.42, p < 0.01), chronic family difficulties (r = 0.41, p < 0.01)], and stressful life events (r = 0.41, p < 0.01), State anxiety was associated with number of affected joints of the child (r = 0.33, p < 0.01). At this early stage of the disease course (median duration 7 months) findings did not confirm the hypothesis that the psychosocial background factors were related to disease parameters or to severity.

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