Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 26, Issue 6, pp 407–414

The Influence of Distress on Mothers' and Fathers' Reports of Childhood Emotional and Behavioral Problems

  • Michael G. Sawyer
  • David L. Streiner
  • Peter Baghurst

DOI: 10.1023/A:1022614800179

Cite this article as:
Sawyer, M.G., Streiner, D.L. & Baghurst, P. J Abnorm Child Psychol (1998) 26: 407. doi:10.1023/A:1022614800179


This study examined the effect of parental distress on mothers' and fathers' reports of children's emotional and behavioral problems. The subjects were the parents of 696 children aged 10 to 11 or 14 to 15 years living in two-parent families in the community. The study utilized an extended version of the model previously employed by Fergusson, Lynskey, and Horwood (1993) to examine the impact of maternal depression on mothers' reports of children's behavior. In the present study, the extended model was used to assess the impact of distress on reports of childhood externalizing and internalizing problems obtained from both mothers and fathers. The results suggested that distress had little influence on mothers' or fathers' reports of childhood behavior problems. It is concluded that in community studies the size of any bias in mothers' and fathers' reports of childhood behavior problems due to parental distress is likely to be very small and of little clinical significance.

Assessmentparent distresschildrenemotional and behavioral problems

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael G. Sawyer
    • 1
  • David L. Streiner
    • 3
  • Peter Baghurst
    • 4
  1. 1.University of AdelaideAdelaideAustralia
  2. 2.Research and Evaluation UnitWomen's and Children's HospitalNorth AdelaideAustralia
  3. 3.McMaster UniversityHamiltonCanada
  4. 4.Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research OrganizationAdelaideAustralia