Stigma by Association: Parent Stigma and Youth Adjustment in Inflammatory Bowel Disease

J Pediatr Psychol. 2021 Jan 20;46(1):27-35. doi: 10.1093/jpepsy/jsaa083.


Objective: Examine the indirect association between parents' experience of stigma (i.e., associative stigma) and youth depressive symptoms through the serial effects of associative stigma on parent and youth illness intrusiveness in pediatric inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

Methods: During routine clinic visits, 150 youth with well-controlled IBD (ages 10-18 years) completed measures of perceived illness intrusiveness and depressive symptoms. Parents completed measures of associative stigma and illness intrusiveness. Pediatric gastroenterologists provided ratings of IBD disease severity.

Results: Structural equation modeling revealed significant direct associations for associative stigma → parent illness intrusiveness, parent illness intrusiveness → youth illness intrusiveness, and youth illness intrusiveness → youth depressive symptoms. Results also revealed a significant associative stigma → parent illness intrusiveness → youth illness intrusiveness→ youth depressive symptoms serial mediation path, indicating that parents' experience of associative stigma indirectly influenced youth depressive symptoms through its sequential effects on parent and youth perceived illness intrusiveness.

Conclusions: Parents who face stigma related to their child's IBD (i.e., associative stigma) are more likely to experience IBD-induced lifestyle intrusions (i.e., illness intrusiveness), which in turn is associated with youths' illness intrusiveness and ultimately youth depressive symptoms. These findings provide further evidence for the important role of illness-related stigma in pediatric IBD, particularly the transactional relation between parents' associative stigma and youths' illness appraisals and emotional functioning. The clinical implications of our results for addressing adjustment difficulties in youth with IBD are also discussed.

Keywords: chronic illness; depression; gastroenterology; inflammatory bowel disease; psychosocial functioning.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Depression*
  • Emotions
  • Humans
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases*
  • Parents
  • Social Stigma