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Psychol Health Med. 2011 Aug;16(4):437-49. doi: 10.1080/13548506.2011.554569.

Parental loss, trusting relationship with current caregivers, and psychosocial adjustment among children affected by AIDS in China.

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  • 1Institute of Psychology and Behavior, Henan University, Kaifeng, Henan, China.


The objective of this study was to examine the relationship between parental loss, trusting relationship with current caregivers, and psychosocial adjustment among children affected by AIDS in China. In this study, cross-sectional data were collected from 755 AIDS orphans (296 double orphans and 459 single orphans), 466 vulnerable children living with HIV-infected parents, and 404 comparison children in China. The trusting relationship with current caregivers was measured with a 15-item scale (Cronbach's α = 0.84) modified from the Trusting Relationship Questionnaire developed by Mustillo et al. in 2005 (Quality of relationships between youth and community service providers: Reliability and validity of the trusting relationship questionnaire. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 14, 577-590). The psychosocial measures include rule compliance/acting out, anxiety/withdrawal, peer social skills, school interest, depressive symptoms, loneliness, self-esteem, future expectation, hopefulness about future, and perceived control over the future. Group mean comparisons using analysis of variance suggested a significant association (p < 0.0001) between the trusting relationship with current caregivers and all the psychosocial measures, except anxiety and depression. These associations remained significant in General Linear Model analysis, controlling for children's gender, age, family socioeconomic status, orphan status (orphans, vulnerable children, and comparison children), and appropriate interaction terms among factor variables. The findings in the current study support the global literature on the importance of attachment relationship with caregivers in promoting children's psychosocial development. Future prevention intervention efforts to improve AIDS orphans' psychosocial well-being will need to take into consideration the quality of the child's attachment relationships with current caregivers and help their current caregivers to improve the quality of care for these children. Future study is needed to explore the possible reasons for the lack of association between a trusting relationship and some internalizing symptoms such as anxiety and depression among children affected by HIV/AIDS.

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