Impact of maternal psychological distress and parental bonding on mother-adolescent agreement about emotional problems
Craig, Linda Shearer
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Objective. To explore the impact of parent psychological distress and parental bonding on agreement between informants about adolescent emotional functioning. Methods. The study employed an observational design in which 87 pairs of mothers and their adolescent sons or daughters aged 12-17 completed proxyand self-report ratings on the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire. Mothers also completed the Depression, Anxiety and Stress scale as a measure of their own psychological distress, and adolescents completed the Parental Bonding Instrument as a measure of their parenting experience. Moderation analyses using multiple linear regression were used to assess whether the association between maternal psychological distress and mother-adolescent agreement changed as a factor of parental bonding. Results. Kappa values indicated that mother-adolescent agreement was ‘fair’ for emotional problems. Mothers’ psychological distress and sub-optimal parenting were both associated with greater reporting discrepancies. Maternal psychological distress and perceived maternal were unique and combined predictors of reporting discrepancies. Perceived care moderated the relationship between maternal distress and agreement such that when care was rated as low, higher levels of maternal distress predicted poor agreement, but when care was rated as high no significant relationship was found between distress and agreement. Conclusions. Increased mother-adolescent agreement was associated with lower maternal psychological distress and higher ratings of perceived care. The effect of psychological distress on informant agreement varied as a factor of perceived maternal care. Results of this study support the need for multiinformant assessment and suggest that enquiry about mothers’ own psychological functioning could facilitate accurate assessment and intervention for adolescents who present at psychology services.