Coping with a cleft: psychosocial adjustment of adolescents with a cleft lip and palate and their parents

Cleft Palate Craniofac J. 2009 Jul;46(4):435-43. doi: 10.1597/08-093.1.


Objective: To explore the nature of psychosocial adjustment in young people with a cleft as well as in their parents, within the framework of Lazarus and Folkman's (1984) transactional model of stress and coping. DESIGN, PARTICIPANTS, SETTING: A cross-sectional postal questionnaire design study was used, involving young people aged between 11 and 16 years and their parents. There were 145 families from two cleft services participating in the study.

Outcome measures: Participants completed measures of psychological adjustment, coping, social experiences, satisfaction with appearance, cleft-related factors, and demographic information.

Results: Young people with a cleft and their mothers did not report psychosocial adjustment difficulties above that of the normal population. An insufficient number of fathers were recruited for substantive analysis to be conducted using their data.

Conclusions: The findings show little evidence of significant psychosocial adjustment difficulties for adolescents with a cleft or for their mothers. The concepts of adjustment, coping, satisfaction with appearance, and maternal mental health in this population are discussed. The results highlight the importance of timely interventions and seeking multiple perspectives in clinical management of a cleft. Questions are raised about the completion of self-report measures for future research in this population.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cleft Lip / psychology*
  • Cleft Palate / psychology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Psychology, Adolescent*
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Surveys and Questionnaires