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Ambul Pediatr. 2008 Nov-Dec;8(6):368-74. doi: 10.1016/j.ambp.2008.08.004. Epub 2008 Oct 25.

Discussion of maternal stress during pediatric primary care visits.

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  • 1Mathematica Policy Research Inc, Washington, DC 20024, USA.



To determine whether the discussion of maternal stress in pediatric primary care is associated with the mother's satisfaction with her child's provider.


Children ages 5-16 and their mothers (N=747) were recruited from the waiting rooms of 13 geographically diverse pediatric primary care sites from 2002 to 2005. Directly after the visit, the mother reported her satisfaction with the attention that the provider gave to her and her child's problems and also reported whether the provider understood the problems that she wanted to discuss during the visit. The mother also reported whether the visit included discussion of her "stresses and strains" and the discussion of child mood or behavior.


Thirty-five percent of mothers discussed their stresses and strains with their child's provider. The mother was more likely to be "completely" satisfied with the attention that she and her child received from the provider (odds ratio [OR] 2.43, 95% confidence interval [95% CI], 1.43-4.11) and to agree "strongly" that the provider understood the problems she wanted to discuss (OR 1.95, 95% CI, 1.32-2.93) when the visit included the discussion of maternal stress after controlling for the reason for the visit, number of previous visits, provider specialty (family practice or pediatrics), youth mental health status, whether the visit included the discussion of child mood or behavior, and maternal distress measured with a standard screening tool.


The mother was more satisfied with her child's primary care provider when maternal stress was discussed during the visit. This finding should somewhat alleviate fears that mothers will react negatively to discussion of their stress during pediatric visits.

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