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Title: Parents with multiple sclerosis and their children : coping, parenting and attachment
Author: Hadji-Michael, Maria
ISNI:       0000 0004 8498 4296
Awarding Body: Royal Holloway, University of London
Current Institution: Royal Holloway, University of London
Date of Award: 2015
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Background: Parental Multiple Sclerosis (MS) can have a significant impact on a child's psychosocial functioning, particularly on internalising and externalising difficulties. However previous research has only included adolescents' adjustment ratings by adolescents themselves or by their parents with MS. The impact on younger children has not been systematically investigated. There are potentially important, life-long impacts of early stress. This study therefore examined pre-adolescent children's adjustment using ratings of MS patients' spouses. We further explored whether parenting styles, quality of attachment and degree of cognitive impairment differed between groups and whether these affected children's adjustment. Methods: 43 families including one parent with MS and 43 matched control families were recruited comprising: the Parent with MS and matched Control Parent; Spouse of Parent with MS and matched Control Spouse; and Child of MS Parent and matched control Parent. Spouses of Parents with MS rated children's behavioural difficulties (Strength and Difficulties Questionnaire; SDQ) and emotional difficulties (Revised Child Anxiety and Depression Scale Parent Version; RCADS-P). MS Parents were assessed on a measure of cognition (Brief International Cognitive Assessment for MS; BICAMS) and children completed self-report measures of their mood (Revised Child Anxiety and Depression Scale; RCADS) and their attachment to parents and peers (Inventory of Parent and Peer Attachment Revised; IPPA-R). Results: Greater externalising difficulties, greater internalising problems and less secure parental and peer attachment were observed in the children of MS parents. Atypical patterns of parenting were observed in the MS group, with no correlation between permissive and authoritarian parenting. In this group, Authoritarian parenting negatively influences externalising behaviour and strong parental and peer attachment protected against internalising difficulties. Cognitive impairment in MS parents was not associated with variation in adjustment. Discussion: This thesis extends findings of adjustment and attachment differences in children of MS parents, using healthy spouse-rated indices for the first time. Differences in parenting styles observed here may contribute to these difficulties, however these findings require replication and patterns of parenting styles observed in the MS group suggest that standard parenting style measures require validation in this population. This study indicates the importance of psychosocial interventions for children of MS Parents. These should focus on promoting strong parent and peer attachment, minimising authoritarian parenting from MS parents and promoting resilience and coping in children which may serve to buffer against the lifelong impact of parental MS.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Clin.Psy.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available