, Volume 24, Issue 6, pp 591-606,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Stress in Adolescents with a Chronically Ill Parent: Inspiration from Rolland’s Family Systems-Illness Model


This article was inspired by Rolland’s Family Systems-Illness (FSI) model, aiming to predict adolescent stress as a function of parental illness type. Ninety-nine parents with a chronic medical condition, 82 partners, and 158 adolescent children (51 % girls; mean age = 15.1 years) participated in this Dutch study. The Dutch Stress Questionnaire for Children was used to measure child report of stress. Ill parents completed the Beck Depression Inventory. Children filled in a scale of the Inventory of Parent and Peer Attachment measuring the quality of parent attachment. Both parents filled in the Parent-Child-Interaction Questionnaire-Revised. We conducted multilevel regression analyses including illness type, the ill parent’s depressive symptoms, family functioning (quality of marital relationship, parent-child interaction, and parent attachment), and adolescents’ gender and age. Four regression analyses were performed separately for each illness type as defined by disability (Model 1), and onset (Model 2), course (Model 3), and outcome of illness (Model 4). In all models, higher adolescent stress scores were linked to lower quality of parent-child interaction and parent attachment, and adolescents’ female gender. The four models explained approximately 37 % of the variance in adolescent stress between individuals and 43-44 % of the variance in adolescent stress between families. Adolescent stress was not related to parental illness type. Our results partially supported the FSI model stating that family functioning is essential in point of child adjustment to parental illness. In the chronic stage of parental illness, adolescent stress does not seem to vary depending on illness type.