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J Abnorm Child Psychol. 1996 Dec;24(6):749-65.

Discrepancies among mother, child, and teacher reports: examining the contributions of maternal depression and anxiety.

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  • 1Yale University Laboratory of Epidemiology and Public Health, New Haven, Connecticut, USA.


The relationship between maternal affective symptomatology and discrepancies in maternal reports of child symptoms, relative to teacher and child reports, was evaluated in a community sample of 188 children ages 9-12 years. Mothers, teachers, and children were administered a structured interview about child psychopathology. In general, mothers reported more child behavior problems than children and teachers regardless of maternal symptomatology. However, maternal affective symptoms were associated with discrepancies between mothers' and daughters' reports and between mothers' and teachers' reports of girls' externalizing symptoms. Furthermore, mothers who reported high levels of both anxiety and depressive symptomatology tended to report a large number of symptoms that were not confirmed by either their daughters or teachers. Findings are discussed as possible evidence of the role of maternal affective symptomatology in both actual increases in child symptomatology and maternal reporting distortions. Although maternal depressive and anxiety symptoms shared variance in reporting discrepancies, only anxiety explained unique variance. Consistent with previous studies, cross-informant agreement was modest to moderate (r = .16 to .50) and all informants reported more behavior problems in boys than in girls.

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