Abstract

In the United States, 14.3% of adolescents have experienced an internalizing disorder. There are, however, often large discrepancies between parent and child reports of the child’s symptoms, which can affect diagnoses and treatment outcomes (Hawley & Weisz, 2003; Kazdin, 1989). Maternal depressive symptoms have been associated with mother-child informant discrepancies of child internalizing symptoms (e.g., Chi & Hinshaw, 2002). Other characteristics of the parent-child relationship and family environment that may predict informant discrepancies have only been examined limitedly (e.g., Treutler & Epkins, 2003). The purpose of the present study was to test the extent to which maternal, family, and child characteristics predict mother-child informant discrepancies about children’s internalizing symptoms. Participants were 129 mother-child dyads (M age = 13.6 years; 52.7% were female) from two independent studies on family relationships and child mental health. Mothers and children completed questionnaires during a lab visit.

We hypothesized that lower levels of maternal depressive symptoms, more maternal warmth and acceptance, and less stressful family environments would be associated with fewer mother-child informant discrepancies on child internalizing symptoms. We also hypothesized that greater informant discrepancies would predict mothers’ poorer attitudes toward seeking treatment for their child’s mental health. We did not find evidence of moderation by maternal, family, or child characteristics in our primary analyses. Supplemental, post-hoc analyses using another measure of children’s depressive symptoms and with participants only from Sample 2 revealed that mother-child information discrepancies were lower at (a) lower levels of maternal warmth and acceptance and (b) higher levels of a stressful family environment. Both of these findings were in the opposite direction of hypotheses. Potential methodological considerations that may have accounted for the null interaction findings are discussed.

Degree Date

Summer 2020

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

M.A.

Department

Psychology

Advisor

Chrystyna D. Kouros

Second Advisor

Robert Hampson

Third Advisor

George W. Holden

Subject Area

Psychology, Clinical

Number of Pages

83

Format

.pdf

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