The Influence of Parental Distress on Child Depressive Symptoms in Juvenile Rheumatic Diseases: The Moderating Effect of Illness Intrusiveness


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Abstract

ObjectiveTo examine the role of children's illness-related cognitive appraisals in the parent-child adjustment relationship in a sample of children and adolescents with juvenile rheumatic disease (JRD). Specifically, we tested the moderating effect of children's perceived illness-induced barriers (i.e., illness intrusiveness) in the parent distress–child depressive symptom relationship.MethodsParticipants were 45 children and adolescents (ages 9–17) diagnosed with JRD. Children completed measures of depressive symptoms (Children's Depression Inventory), functional disability (Juvenile Arthritis and Functional Assessment Report), and illness intrusiveness (Illness Intrusiveness Scale–adapted for children); parents completed a brief measure of global distress (Brief Symptom Inventory). The pediatric rheumatologist provided functional disability ratings following a routine physical exam.ResultsBoth increased parental distress and child illness intrusiveness were associated with greater child depressive symptoms. Direct effects were qualified by a significant Parent Distress × Illness Intrusiveness interaction. The influence of general parental distress on child depressive symptoms was enhanced under conditions of increased child-reported illness intrusiveness.ConclusionsResults support transactional conceptualizations of child adjustment to chronic illness. Findings also emphasize the need to examine the interaction of parent and child variables, particularly cognitive appraisals, in child adjustment. Results and treatment implications for children with JRD are discussed in terms of reinforcement theories of depression.

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