The impact of maternal perceptions and medical severity on the adjustment of children with congenital heart disease

J Pediatr Psychol. 1991 Apr;16(2):137-49. doi: 10.1093/jpepsy/16.2.137.


Hypothesized that maternal perceptions would be more significant predictors of emotional adjustment than medical severity. Mothers of 99 children, between the ages 4-10 years, completed the Child Behavior Checklist, Parenting Stress Index, Parental Locus of Control Scale, and a measure of perception of medical severity. Assessed medical severity by number of hospitalizations, operations, catheterizations, hospital days, outpatient visits, and a cardiologist's rating of illness severity. Maternal perceptions were potent predictors of emotional adjustment. Approximately 33% of the variability in adjustment was accounted for by maternal perceptions, while the medical severity accounted for less than 3% of the variability. Severity of illness appears less critical to successful adaptation than the quality of the mother-child relationship.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Internal-External Control
  • Male
  • Maternal Behavior*
  • Mother-Child Relations*
  • Personality Tests
  • Sick Role*