Thirty-one parents with multiple sclerosis (MS) participated in a study to investigate the adjustment of their children, 24 boys and 24 girls aged 4 to 16 years. The majority of parents believed that their illness had an effect on their children. The perception of parents regarding their children's problems in the areas of emotions, concentration, behavior, or social interactions indicated that the children were at three times greater risk than the general community of developing psychological problems. In contrast, actual symptom scores reported by parents revealed that, although these children were at greater risk than the general community of developing peer problems, little difference was found on hyperactivity, emotional symptoms, conduct problems, or total difficulties. Parental negative affect predicted both parental reports of peer problems and perceptions that the parents' illness had an effect on their children. Parental relationship satisfaction and family income did not predict parental reports of children's level of adjustment. These results indicate that children of parents with MS demonstrate more difficulties in how they relate to others, the distress they experience, and how they manage their lives, rather than revealing higher levels of symptoms. Since the data were based on parental reports of their children's problems, the results may also be due to negative affect among the parents.
Field of Research
170106 Health, Clinical and Counselling Psychology
HERDC Research category
C3.1 Non-refereed articles in a professional journal