Parental psychopathology and children's adjustment to leukemia

J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 1993 May;32(3):554-61. doi: 10.1097/00004583-199305000-00010.


Objective: The primary purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between parental psychopathology and psychosocial functioning of children in whom acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) has been diagnosed.

Method: The sample consisted of 61 mother-child dyads. Twenty-one (34%) mothers met DSM-III-R criteria for at least one psychiatric disorder based on a Structured Clinical Interview for Diagnosis (SCID).

Results: Findings revealed that compared with children whose mothers did not meet DSM-III-R criteria for a psychiatric disorder, children with mothers who evidenced a psychiatric disorder self-reported more anxiety and a maladaptive attributional style and were reported by their mothers as evidencing more depression and a range of internalizing behavioral symptoms.

Conclusions: Although our earlier research suggested that ALL children show relatively few symptoms of psychopathology, the present report reveals high rates of psychiatric difficulties in the mothers of ALL youth. These findings and their implications are discussed within a model that incorporates behavioral pediatrics and developmental psychopathology.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Depressive Disorder / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder / etiology
  • Family*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Leukemia, Lymphoid / psychology*
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Mental Disorders / psychology
  • Mother-Child Relations
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales