Differences in family structure and functioning between families with disordered and healthy children
Materias Investigacion::Ciencias de la Salud::Psiquiatría y psicología
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INTRODUCTION During the last ten years, Children and Adolescent psychiatry has experienced a growth in the rates of children consulting for mental disorders. Alteration in family functioning and structure may cause a negative impact in children and adolescent psychological adjustment, being this fact related to the increase in the number of consultations. OBJECTIVES To compare family functioning and structure between families with and without a child affected with a psychopathological disorder. METHOD Parents of children attending for the first time to the Children and Adolescent Psychiatry Unit at the Department of Psychiatry at the University Hospital of Navarra or at the General Paediatrics Department of the same institution were invited to fill in a sociodemographic questionnaire, the Family Assessment Device (FAD), and the Family Adaptability and Cohesion Evaluation Scale (FACES III). Statistical analysis was performed with the SPSS (v. 15.0) program. RESULTS We analysed a sample of 124 married couples with a child affected with a psychopathological disorder, and 46 marriages without any psychologically disordered child. Parents of disordered children had been married for a mean of approximately 15 years (+5.8) and those of healthy children had been married for a mean of approximately 9 years (+5.4). Statistically meaningful differences were found between fathers from both groups in the “global functioning” subscale measured by the FAD. In the case of mothers, the “roles” and “global functioning” FAD subscales revealed statistically meaningful differences (p<0.05) between both groups. Finally, the FACES III “cohesion” subscale displayed statistically meaningful differences (p<0.05) also between mothers from both groups. CONCLUSIONS Fathers of disordered children refer a worse global functioning in their families. Mothers of disordered children refer greater difficulty to allocate roles, and an alteration in emotional links between family members.

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