The influence of maternal psychopathology on ratings of child psychiatric symptoms: an SEM analysis on cross-informant agreement
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- Müller, J.M., Achtergarde, S. & Furniss, T. Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry (2011) 20: 241. doi:10.1007/s00787-011-0168-2
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The distorting influence of maternal depression on the ratings of child behaviour is known as the depression-distortion hypothesis. This study investigated the depression-distortion hypothesis in a clinical sample of child psychiatric preschool children and extended the depression-distortion hypothesis to maternal psychopathology-distortion hypothesis in general. Subjects were 124 children, who were referred for treatment in a Child Psychiatric Family Day Hospital for preschool children, and their parents. Children were rated on the CBCL/1.5-5 and the C-TRF/1.5-5 by their mothers, kindergarten teachers and therapists. Maternal psychopathology was assessed by self-rating with the SCL-90-R and the BDI. The appropriateness of the depression-distortion hypothesis, as well as two alternatives, the accuracy and the combinatory model, were subsequently analysed by structural equation modelling (SEM), including the ratings of all three informants. Model fit and parameter estimation supported the distortion model, suggesting that ratings of child behaviour by mothers may be biased by maternal psychopathology. Findings are discussed with regard to the existing cross-informant literature, with particular consideration of the distortion hypothesis and third person ratings of child psychopathology in preschool age.