Objectives: We investigated the hypothesis that children with cystic fibrosis (CF) and their parents would show more maladaptive behaviors during dinner than children without CF and their parents.
Study design: Children with CF (n = 32) and their parents were compared with 29 children without CF and their parents on the rate and frequency of parent-child behaviors during a typical dinner in the families' homes by using multivariate analyses of variance.
Results: When the rate of behavior, controlling for meal length, was examined, no differences were found between groups. However, parents of children with CF were found to differ from parents of control subjects in the frequency of direct and indirect commands (P <.05), coaxes (P <.01), physical prompts (P <.01), and feeding their child (P <.05). Children with CF were found to engage in more talk, spend more time away from the table, refuse food, and exhibit more noncompliance toward commands to eat than control children (P <.05 for all child variables). When behaviors were examined as a function of meal phase, parents of children with and without CF both showed an increase in commands (P <.01), coaxes (P <.05), feeds (P <.01), and physical prompts (P <.01) in the second half of the meal as compared with the first. Children with CF and the control children showed an increase in behaviors incompatible with eating during the second half of the meal compared with the first (P <.01). When faster eaters were compared with slower eaters, faster eaters consumed a higher percentage of the recommended daily allowance of energy (P <.01) than slower eaters and showed a trend to be at higher weight percentiles for age and sex (P =.08) regardless of group (CF or control).
Conclusions: Children with CF and their parents do not differ from children without CF and their parents in the rate of behaviors exhibited or types of strategies used to encourage eating. However, children with CF and their parents engage in these behaviors more frequently. Our data do not support typical parenting behaviors as effective in meeting the CF dietary requirements. Additional support in the form of child behavior management training may be needed to assist parents in meeting their child's caloric requirements.