The relationship of parenting stress to adjustment among mothers in prison

Am J Orthopsychiatry. 2002 Oct;72(4):548-58. doi: 10.1037/0002-9432.72.4.548.


Incarcerated mothers at a maximum security prison (N = 362) participated in a study of the relationship between parenting stress, measured by a modification of the R. R. Abidin (1995) Parenting Stress Index, and adjustment, assessed by the L. Derogatis (1993) Brief Symptom Inventory and institutional records of misconduct. Stress associated with limited contact with children was related to higher levels of anxiety, depression, and somatization. Stress concerning visitation was significantly related to anxiety. Stress concerning competence as a parent was associated with elevated anxiety and depressive symptoms as well as with increased institutional misconduct. Incarcerated women experience considerable distress related to parenting, manifest in psychological and behavioral adjustment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child Custody / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Mother-Child Relations
  • Mothers / psychology*
  • Parenting / psychology*
  • Prisoners*
  • Social Behavior Disorders / diagnosis
  • Social Behavior Disorders / psychology
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States