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J Abnorm Child Psychol. 2015 Jan;43(1):177-87. doi: 10.1007/s10802-014-9893-6.

The impact of chronic physical illness, maternal depressive symptoms, family functioning, and self-esteem on symptoms of anxiety and depression in children.

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Offord Centre for Child Studies, McMaster University, Chedoke Site, Central Building, Room 304, 1280 Main Street West, Hamilton, ON, L8S 4K1, Canada,


The present study extends earlier research identifying an increased risk of anxiety among children with chronic physical illness (CwCPI) by examining a more complete model that explains how physical illness leads to increased symptoms of anxiety and depression. We tested a stress-generation model linking chronic physical illness to symptoms of anxiety and depression in a population-based sample of children aged 10 to 15 years. We hypothesized that having a chronic physical illness would be associated with more symptoms of anxiety and depression, increased levels of maternal depressive symptoms, more family dysfunction, and lower self-esteem; and, that maternal depressive symptoms, family dysfunction, and child self-esteem would mediate the influence of chronic physical illness on symptoms of anxiety and depression. Data came from the National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth (N = 10,646). Mediating processes were analyzed using latent growth curve modeling. Childhood chronic physical illness was associated with increases in symptoms of anxiety and depression, β = 0.20, p < 0.001. Mediating effects were also observed such that chronic physical illness resulted in increases in symptoms of maternal depression and family dysfunction, leading to declines in child self-esteem, and in turn, increases in symptoms of anxiety and depression. CwCPI are at-risk for symptoms of anxiety and depression. Some of this elevated risk appears to work through family processes and child self-esteem. This study supports the use of family-centered care approaches among CwCPI to minimize burden on families and promote healthy psychological development for children.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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